Video: Leeds solicitor’s tyre-some bid to make Antarctic expedition

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Getting into work on the morning commute is not something most people look forward to - but Stephanie Innes-Smith has found a way to make hers even more challenging.

The trainee solicitor and army reservist, who lives in Leeds city centre, is closing in on a place to be part of the first British Army team of women to cross the Antarctic, powered solely by their own body strength.

Female army reservist Stephanie Innes-Smith, who lives in the city centre and works at Irwin Mitchell, is hoping to be part of a special all-female army team which has been put together to cross the Antarctic land mass. She is currently training by hauling a giant tyre through the city of Leeds on her way to work. Picture Tony Johnson

Female army reservist Stephanie Innes-Smith, who lives in the city centre and works at Irwin Mitchell, is hoping to be part of a special all-female army team which has been put together to cross the Antarctic land mass. She is currently training by hauling a giant tyre through the city of Leeds on her way to work. Picture Tony Johnson

The 30-year-old Lance Corporal, of the Intelligence Corps, will potentially walk 1,700km in temperatures as low as -80ºC whilst braving winds of over 60mph, all in an effort to inspire a new era of female expeditionary spirit within the armed forces.

She has had to work hard to get to this stage, as an original cohort of about 250 applicants has been whittled down to just 12.

And as someone who likes a challenge, she has been training intensely. Her daily routine now involves pulling a heavy tyre to and from her work at Irwin Mitchell, a journey of about a mile which takes 15 to 20 minutes.

“I pull the tyre everywhere with me, but not to court,” said Miss Innes-Smith. “Kids try to jump in it – others ask what you’re doing and give you nutrition tips.

Female army reservist Stephanie Innes-Smith, who lives in the city centre and works at Irwin Mitchell, is hoping to be part of a special all-female army team which has been put together to cross the Antarctic land mass. She is currently training by hauling a giant tyre through the city of Leeds on her way to work. Picture Tony Johnson

Female army reservist Stephanie Innes-Smith, who lives in the city centre and works at Irwin Mitchell, is hoping to be part of a special all-female army team which has been put together to cross the Antarctic land mass. She is currently training by hauling a giant tyre through the city of Leeds on her way to work. Picture Tony Johnson

“The amount of people who come up and stop me is amazing – I’m going to keep a little notebook of people with the tyre.”

She is also hoping her hard work will inspire other women to get involved in challenges: “Women need to get out there and stop worrying what they look like,” said the former French teacher.

“This challenge will send a message - women need to stop worrying about Facebook and Instagram and just go out there and do it.

“You can reach a more fulfilling life — you can always do a bit more than you think and anybody can surprise themselves.”

The latest selection phase for the expedition, dubbed Exercise Ice Maiden, was held in Norway two weeks ago and involved an eight-day course in ski touring and survival.

Despite emerging victorious from the selection process, she noted how skiing is not suited to her natural talents. “I was one of the worst skiers in Norway. Apparently, I fall very gracefully but get up quite ungracefully,” she joked.

“The hardest part of it all has been fitting the training in with my day job. I’ve got so much training and will be working about 25 of the next 30 weekends.”

The next stage will see the remaining contenders travel to Norway in November where the surviving 12 will become eight, before one last test in Greenland, where a final team of six will be formed.

Tom Fitzsimons (right) who is celebrating 10 years of sobriety by running 10 marathons, raising money for St Georges Crypt. Pictured at Headingley Stadium with Dan Jowett and Cheryl Harrington.
18th August 2017.
Picture Jonathan Gawthorpe

Tom’s ten years, ten days, ten marathons