in Antarctica

November 2008 - January 2009


Daragh training

Any discussion on Daragh’s physical training has to begin with the tyre dragging - apparently the most accurate way of replicating the efforts involved in pulling a 60kg sledge across the ice! It involves wearing the sledge harness roped up to several or more tyres, which can then be dragged across different terrain with varying degrees of drag and difficulty.

Residents of and visitors to Wandsworth in London, and Ardmore in Co Waterford in Ireland, have all witnessed Daragh dragging tyres, and this activity has formed the backbone of his training schedule. Having successfully begged and borrowed tyres at the start of August, Daragh began with one hour’s tyre dragging at a time several days a week, building to a peak of between six to eight hours a day, six days a week in late October. As well as being deceptively hard work, this aspect of training has led to most enquiries from passers-by – for obvious reasons(!) – leading on to messages of support and personal donations, which have all been most gratefully received. Thank you!

In addition to the tyres, however, Daragh also has a more traditional aerobic physical training programme in the form of weights, rowing machines, swimming, running, and bike work. In July he visited Iceland, where he and a friend scaled the country’s highest mountain and practised ice and glacier climbing, although with a day off for golf. In October a long weekend in the Welsh mountains will provide a solid three days of punishing training at the peak of Daragh’s schedule.

A vital aspect of the physical training has been the aim to achieve optimum performance at the time of the expedition, while avoiding overtraining or injury. Daragh has received invaluable advice and support from Luke Cunliffe at Cunliffe Associates (, who has counselled and mentored Daragh from the outset, on all aspects of his training, both physical and mental. Luke has been an unfailing source of support and encouragement: Luke, thank you!

Diet is also obviously important, although the main problem has been providing Daragh with
sufficient calories to support his training. It is recommended that team members gain weight prior to the expedition, in order that they have plenty of reserves to call upon. Accordingly, the Horgan kitchen and fridge have been extremely busy supplying around 4,500 – 5,000 calories per day to Daragh during the training. While on the expedition itself the maximum number of calories he can consume through team rations is c.5,000 calories per day, while calorie burn is expected to be between 5,500 to 7,000 calories per day.

The third aspect of training is the mental preparation for the trek: the discipline to repeat the same tiring physical feat day after day in the face of some of the worst conditions that Mother Nature can conjure up. Organisation, attention to detail and forming routines will be vital: for example keeping unworn gloves in the same place, since to lose them for even a short time
would be disastrous.

"O, how glorious would it be to set my heel upon the Pole and turn myself 360° in a second!"
Joseph Banks botanist on James Cook's voyage, 1769-71