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Born to explore - Arctic adventurer gets ready for the South Pole

Published:Friday | April 5, 2013 | 12:00 AM
Dwayne Fields
Fields living his dream.

Janelle Oswald, Contributor

No matter how hard I try, I cannot even begin to imagine or comprehend how cold minus-20 degrees celsius must feel as I sit in amazement interviewing record-breaking adventurer Dwayne Fields.

And it is for this reason alone, that I feel Fields is, without a doubt, one of the most remarkable people I have met.

Having never seen snow before he moved to the UK from Jamaica at the age of six, the intrepid explorer's mental strength is far greater than that of the average 30-year-old.

Fascinated to know why he puts his mind and body through such extreme pressure - Fields will trek for 58 days, 1,150km through the most hostile environment on Earth to reach the South Pole - his answer is simple and selfless.

"I want to make a difference to the world," he said. "I want to inspire the youth to think outside the box and to dream big, believing that they can achieve their goals if they put their mind to it."

Describing himself as an 'achiever', 'overcomer' and a person who was "born to be an explorer", Fields talks about the lengths he must go to in preparation for the trip that will place him in the Guinness Book of Records, as the first black person in the world to hike to both the North and South Poles. For a start, he has to sit in a cold chamber (a giant fridge), dressed in a pair of shorts and t-shirt to acclimatise his body.

Minus 20 Degrees

"The average house freezer goes down to minus 2. However; a cold chamber's temperature is about minus 20," he explains. "I will sit in there for an hour at a time, shaking and shivering while being monitored by my medical team."

Fields adds: "Training is tough because it is both mental and physical. When I was training for the trek to the North Pole in 2010, I would box for two hours, three days per week.

"I would complete two 15-mile runs per week, plus play football, not forgetting dragging tyres across Dartmoor's fields for five to eight hours at a time. I would go on numerous escapades on the weekends with a loaded backpack and walk for about nine hours.

"I am doing the same thing in preparation for the South Pole, which is three times the distance, so I have now increased my workout regime and I am also doing yoga."

Determined to fulfil his hiking dream, Fields explains: "My motivation behind my next journey is because I feel like half the job is done having already completed the North Pole. The Antarctica is calling me. I am just answering that call.

"My campaign has never changed. I do what I do to inspire and uplift youngsters so they can walk away from a life of crime and gang warfare and become a more productive person in the community; become a better man or woman."

Fields initially challenged himself to trek to Alaska after hearing the testimonies of fellow Arctic adventurers, Ben Fogle and James Cracknell, who shared their tales on BBC's Breakfast News.

At the time, Fields was mentally recovering from two near-death incidences after he survived being stabbed and narrowly escaped a street shooting in Hackney, east London. Sickened by the constant negativity young males show each other on the streets, Fields felt compelled to do something extreme to get his message across.


"I want people to remember me as a person who had a dream and followed it through rather than a person who is the 'first this' and 'the only that'. I want people to think of me as a person who had an idea and stuck with it. Someone who finishes," said the modest but forthright young achiever.

He advises: "Endless young people are obsessed with the 'get rich or die trying' mentality but this notion is wrong. My message to the youth is 'if you have an idea, a destiny - plan your route and you can't go wrong."

"Too many people are planning ways to get rich but are not planning what they are going to do or how they are going to be when they succeed. If you plan the person you are going to be, when you get rich, it will help you to find your route to your wealth in a healthy way, which does not mean death."

Intrigued to know how he keeps warm, Fields, who also works part-time as a bank cashier, shares: "The truth is you don't keep warm. You can't. It's difficult because you can get to a working temperature where you feel comfortable but you are certainly not warm.


"You have to learn to master the cold and focus your mind on other things. In fact, keeping warm is the last thing on my mind. I am more focused on the next checkpoint or next wave point on my compass or map.

"I try to hold my urine until the night because I can use it to make a hot water bottle. When urine is fresh it's warm, so I can place it at the bottom of my sleeping bag to keep my feet warm," he says. "Believe me, it really works."

"How do you bathe?" I quiz further. Laughing, Fields replies: "I don't bathe. I use wipes. However, bathing is the first thing on my list when I get back home."

Unlike his last adventure when it was a two-person hike, fearless Fields revealed he will be doing a solo voyage in November.

"I will speak to my support team once a day so they know my location and where I will be the following day. This is to ensure that they always know where I am," he reassured.

"Trekking is lonely. It's just me, myself and I travelling with the Most High, God, who keeps me protected and guided.


"However, when you are cold, hungry and tired the most recurring thought is: 'Why am I doing this?' I always have two main battles with myself: the physical battle - braving the cold - versus the psychological battle where I have to remind myself the reasons why I am here, because when I am there, I just want to be on the beach in Jamaica," he admitted playfully.

Sharing his personal motto from Thomas Edison, who said: 'Many of life's failures are people who did not realise how close they were to success when they gave up: Fields plans to raise £150,000 for his next expedition, which includes a donation to Noah's Ark Children's Hospice and the African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust. He humbly asks supporters to sponsor his mission by 'buying a mile' or making a donation via his website.

Talking about what is next on his adventurous agenda, the east Londoner stated: 'I have also spent time with the Bedouin tribes in the Sinai desert in Egypt, which was mind-blowing, so once I complete all the ice-cold destinations of the world, I plan to visit various deserts and jungles - so watch this space."

"How do you bathe?" I quiz further. Laughing, Fields replies: "I don't bathe. I use wipes. However, bathing is the first thing on my list whenI get back home."