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Biography: Pen Hadow - Read interview

Pen Hadow


Others say

"Jonathan Dimbleby, Pen Hadow and Simon Murray gelled to provide one of the most revealing, provocative and entertaining evenings we've had the privilege to organise."
Director, Royal Geographical Society

"Minister, ladies and gentlemen, I am anxious to be following Pen Hadow who speaks so brilliantly and who lays down the challenges and dangers we face so clearly."
HRH The Prince of Wales speaking at the Business in the Community May Day Summit, 2009

"Just to say how much of a success this was. Pen spoke extremely well and his talk was deeply moving at times, you could have heard a pin drop!"
Managing Director, Cazenove Capital Management

"Thank you for participating at the Young Leaders event in Paris last week. Your presentation was the perfect finale to our first ever gathering of our Young Leader membership. The feedback from attendees was universally positive with many commenting on how inspiring it was to hear about your remarkable journey."
Managing Director, Centre for Regeneration and Sustainability, Urban Land Institute, Europe

Pen HadowGlobal Explorer, Motivational Speaker & Environment Consultant, inspires audiences with his extraordinary story of achievement in one of the most challenging environments on Earth.

In 2003, Pen Hadow was catapulted to international fame when he became the first person to complete one of the last great polar challenges - solo, without re-supply, from Canada to the North Geographic Pole. This feat is thought to be harder than climbing Everest solo, and demands such a level of skill and endurance that all before had tried and failed. Even polar experts were beginning to think the challenge was impossible.

When The Times reported his feat on its front cover, the story was voted as one of  the Top 100 Newspaper Front Pages of the 20th century.

After 15 years, three attempts and an exceptional degree of commitment, Pen achieved his dream. The undertaking almost cost him his life more than once, when he broke through the ice and found himself swimming in the sub-zero waters of the Arctic Ocean, many hundreds of miles from help.

In 2015 Pen prepares to make the ultimate journey of exploration: the first solo crossing on foot of the Arctic Ocean (100 days/2,000km) via the North Pole, while mapping the thickness of the sea ice and promoting an international treaty to protect the fast-changing Arctic ecosystem.

This is more than double the distance of his high profile record-breaking solo trek from Canada to the North Pole - a feat which remains unrepeated - and which The Times compared in difficulty to the first solo ascent of Everest by the hardest route without oxygen.

"Had to let you know how everyone was so inspired by your speech and kept your messages top of mind throughout the meetings. Your name came up repeatedly, as did your approach to challenges: attention to details, foreseeing simple incidents, judgement calls, self discipline, use of imagery. It was fantastic. It would have been great to have had you there the rest of the days. The synergy and chemistry were evident."
Director, Ogilvy Consejeros de Comunicacion

As a child, Pen’s nanny (previously Scott of the Antarctic's son's nanny) filled his head with tales of Scott and the other great explorers. His father told stories of the sporting prowess and great deeds of Pen's illustrious ancestors, as far back as Tudor times.  Among them was Douglas Hadow, a member of Edward Whymper's party that made the first ascent of the Matterhorn in 1865 - and fell to his death on the descent.

Pen discovered early the benefits that come with a high degree of compliance to sports training programmes.

Aged 15 he devised a punishing training schedule to enable him to attempt a traditional school marathon which he completed in three hours. This had not been done for fifty years.

In the 1980's Pen became the youngest-ever executive at IMG sports organisation, and a decade later, in 1995, he set up the world's first specialist polar guide service, almost single-handedly opening up the Arctic and Antarctic with his pioneering travel business, The Polar Travel Company.

In 1997 he organised the first all-women's relay to the North Geographic Pole, enabling 20 women, with no previous polar experience, to walk into The Guinness Book of World Records. He thus changed the perception of what many thought was possible in the polar regions.

In February 2004, Pen became the first Briton to trek, without resupply, to both Poles. He achieved this as he led ex-French Foreign Legionnaire Simon Murray (63) on a new 1,200km route to the South Geographic Pole, enabling Murray to become the oldest person by a decade to achieve the feat.

Pen currently works with the Met Office, the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research, and other research and campaigning organisations dedicated to global climate change issues and the concept of carbon neutrality.Pen has also completed the Catlin Arctic Survey, a pioneering scientific expedition to help determine the lifespan of the Arctic Ocean's sea ice cover. His findings was taken to the national negotiating teams working to replace the Kyoto Protocol agreement at the UN Climate Change Conference of Parties in 2009.

Speaking Topics

Pen Hadow,  Global Explorer, Motivational Speaker & Environment Consultant, inspires audiences with his extraordinary story of achievement in one of the most challenging environments on Earth.

•    Motivation – finding it & keeping it
•    Pioneering mindset & breakthroughs
•    Team performance & improvement
•    Resilience
•    Goal setting & setbacks
•    Risk v rewards
•    Global environmental change & corporate sustainability
•    Peak Performance (in the toughest environments)

For further information or to book Pen Hadow, call us on +44 (0)20 7607 7070 or email info@speakerscorner.co.uk

Interview with Pen Hadow


Of all the expeditions you have done, which have you found the most satisfying?


Becoming the only person solo from Canada to the Pole was an emotionally satisfying experience, but setting up and leading the Catlin Arctic Surveys (2007-12) to investigate the rates, causes and impacts of the unexpectedly fast Arctic sea-ice loss was a more comprehensively satisfying project, not least because it served a wider public value.


What were the first thoughts that went through your mind once you reached the North Pole?


What I felt was utter, utter relief that I had finally done it on my third attempt over 15 years. Immediately followed by a prodigious sense of liberation, for it had become a curse on moving on with the rest of my life (until I had done it). What I thought was: call my wife to thank her for enabling my dream to become a reality. Call my base to arrange the plane to collect me; and call The Times journalist who'd been covering the story thus far. It took 9 days for the weather to clear sufficiently for a plane to pick me up. I had drifted 40 miles in my tent ... and I'd had no food for the last 5 days.


I'm currently training for a half-marathon - nothing compared to the feats you have undertaken I know - but what tips would you give me to keep my motivation up on long training runs?


"If it was easy, 'they'd' all be doing it ... so getting through this is substantially what converting your vision into a reality is all about. This is it. It's the training, not the run itself. Transforming your capacity is always going to be a tough process, but it's a worthwhile process, given you've already attached high worth to doing the half-marathon. That's the difference between you and 99.9999% of the population. ...


You have advised the UN on Climate Change, How do you think this can be combatted or has the damage already been done?


Well thanks for this! It's probably the most important, large and complex question/challenge the world faces today! My response is to work a) to secure an international treaty to protect the Arctic Ocean ecosystem, b) to create an environmental sponsorship agency so that businesses & brands can engage their stakeholders more effectively with our planet's diminishing life support systems ... And, Yes, massive damage has been done to many ecosystems around the world, but as Earth is the only planet we have, we'd best try and sort things out ASAP.


How do you relax?


Listening to BBC Radio 4 Extra (much of its output is either hilarious or fascinating); drinking coffee in harbour-side cafes in sunshine; reading The Week; and watching my children play sport/ listen to them making music. Simple pleasures!

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