Prince Harry to race to South Pole

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Media captionPrince Harry: "As a member of the British team, I will have a brew ready for you when you join us at the Pole"

Prince Harry is to take part in a race to the South Pole with a team of wounded British servicemen and women.

He told a press conference he will join the 208-mile (335km) Walking With The Wounded South Pole Allied Challenge in November and December.

The prince, an army pilot who has served in Afghanistan, will take on teams from the US and the Commonwealth.

He said the aim of the event was to "meet a challenge head-on and overcome it and inspire others to do the same."

The Walking With The Wounded charity funds re-training and re-education of wounded servicemen and women to help them find employment after leaving the services.

Prince Harry took part in the charity's trek to the North Pole in 2011 but withdrew early to attend his brother's wedding. He is already patron of the Antarctica expedition.

'Remarkable qualities'

He did not take part in a bid to conquer Mount Everest with the group last year because of his military commitments and

He said of the South Pole race: "The format may be different. The scale is certainly different.

But the aim remains the same - to enable our wounded to do what they and all other servicemen and women do better than anyone else I know - meet a challenge head-on and overcome it and inspire others to do the same.

"Ladies and gentlemen, these men and women have given their all in the cause of freedom, in our cause.

"That they should once again step into the breach - this time facing down the extreme physical and mental challenges of trekking to the South Pole - just underlines their remarkable qualities."

He added:"So, what are these qualities? Courage, to be sure. Physical strength, endurance, a sense of comradeship, absolutely.

"But there's something else, something deeper than that. Something that continues to draw me back to this charity and these people time and again - and always will.

"It's toughness of mind. An unquenchable spirit that simply refuses to say, 'I am beaten'. In a way it's something that can't be defined. You've either got it or you haven't."

The four wounded service personnel in the British team are Sgt Duncan Slater, 34, from Muir of Ord in Scotland, who lost both his legs in a blast in Afghanistan in 2009; Maj Kate Philp, 34, from Worcestershire, who lost her left leg after a bomb blast in 2008; Capt Guy Disney, 31, from Oxford, who lost his right leg in a rocket attack in 2009; and Capt Ibrar Ali, 36, from York, who lost his right arm in a roadside bomb in 2007.

Extreme conditions

The BBC's Frank Gardner said the teams have already begun training on skis and were recently in Iceland, getting their first taste of a howling blizzard on a glacier. Many are missing limbs from explosions in Iraq or Afghanistan.

One man in the US team is blind and has never skied before.

He added that two years ago the charity's expedition successfully reached the North Pole, but last year they failed to reach the summit of Mount Everest. So it was by no means certain that all will make it to the South Pole, he said.

During the four-week expedition the racers will drag sledges - known as pulks - weighing more than 150lb (68kg) and face extreme temperatures as low as -45C, along with savage 50mph winds.

They will trek between nine and 13 miles each day in extreme weather conditions and encounter vast crevasses, moving ice-shelves, glaciers and snow storms.

The prince has previously said his career in the army has given him a better understanding of charities for injured Armed Forces personnel and veterans.

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