Vegan Life speaks to Craig Williams, who is taking part in the Ice Warrior project which sees 28 people attempt to reach the Arctic pole
In February 2018 Craig Williams, who has been vegan for three years now, will be part of an expedition of just 28 people from around the world who are attempting to reach the previously unexplored arctic pole, dubbed the pole of inaccessibility. This is no holiday and Craig will be completing a gruelling 200 miles slog across unstable ice fields in just 20 days to complete his leg, one of four in total. We spoke to Craig about the expedition and how he is training for this historic attempt.
What is the Ice Warrior Project?
Jim McNeill, a very accomplished polar explorer, started the ice warrior project in 2001 because he wanted to make exploration accessible for everyone. He wanted to take ordinary people and make them modern day explorers to emulate the golden era of exploration. He wanted to show that if you apply yourself mentally and physically, adventure is accessible to everyone.
What is the pole of inaccessibility?
There are four poles; the magnetic pole, the geomagnetic pole, the geographical pole — the North pole — and at the centre of the arctic ocean you have the arctic pole. That is the one we are attempting to reach. Of course, it’s dubbed the northern pole of inaccessibility for very good reason.
Jim himself has actually attempted it twice before and on the last time he ended up slipping into a river because it was so treacherous. We are calling this an attempt because there is a genuine possibility that it may be inaccessible.
There are a myriad of problems. Polar bears are not uncommon apparently because they are populating areas which they were previously unable to access. There is also the risk of cold temperatures as low as minus 50. I’ve experienced a couple of degrees below zero, but never minus 50. That’s going to be something to really worry about. The terrain is going to be an issue too and we are going to have to be really careful about how we go over or through certain obstacles. There will be ice fields, pockets of freezing cold waters and movement of ice on the ocean.
Are you nervous or excited?
I’m really excited actually. I love the idea that I will be contributing something to the planet in this period of time. I have to pinch myself though because this isn’t some holiday; it’s a serious mental and physical struggle. We are going to be bringing back crucial data on the polar region so I’m really excited to be a part of it. Bragging rights aside, it’s going to be incredible to say that I was part of this team of ordinary people wandering the wilderness for science.
How did you become part of the project?
Ever since a young age I always wanted to be an explorer but I think that I got stuck in my comfort zone. I was happy being a small town boy and I just sat in my comfort zone for far too long. They say that life begins on the edge of your comfort zone and I saw this opportunity after I had some bad news last year. My grandmother passed in January and Ice Warrior kept popping up on my social media and I thought it looked like a fantastic opportunity. I saw my nan’s death as a reason to start living, so I applied.
What will you be eating on the expedition? Space food?
Although it’s still early days, everyone has to take their own food and supplies for the entire trip. I will be doing 200 miles in 20 days and carrying what I need for that time. There is going to be a lot of vacuum packed food. I’m currently using huel, which is a vegan meal replacement, for training. You just shake it up with water and off you go, it’s all you need.
What training do you need to do?
At the moment I am trail running to build up cardio and endurance. I also see a personal trainer who is giving me a high intensity weekly circuit which absolutely kills me every Sunday. I train seven days a week and I’ve got six months to get in shape. I train for about an hour and then about 30 minutes of trail running every evening as well. I have a 4×4 tyre which I am going to start adding to my trail running now too.
At the moment my body is running on about 2,200 calories and I’m being very strict with myself. When I first went vegan I did a great stint of really healthy fruit, juices and smoothies. I started slipping into the vegan junk food and I didn’t feel as good but I started following plant based doctors and now I stay strict. I am a very healthy vegan.
What are you hoping to achieve?
I’ve gone from a stereotypical meat eater to completely the opposite. I hope to add to the growing list of vegans out there who survive daily and thrive on a vegan diet. Being part of this historical expedition as a vegan will show that there is no need to worry about deficiencies or any of the other rubbish we vegans hear about on a daily basis!
Craig has raised £2,000 towards his target of £20,000 and is looking for support to reach his goal by December 2017. Donate at gofundme.com/ice-warrior-training-expedition
You can follow his journey at veganicewarrior.com