Maria Leijerstam is first person to cycle to South Pole

image captionMaria Leijerstam celebrates becoming the first person to cycle to the South Pole

A woman from the Vale of Glamorgan has become the first person to cycle to the South Pole.

Maria Leijerstam, 35, beat two male rivals in a 500-mile (800km) challenge to ride across Antarctica in 10 days.

She faced snow drifts, white outs and crevasses during the journey on a purpose-built recumbent cycle.

Her mother Adrianne Leijerstam said the success was down to "meticulous planning, super fitness both physically and mentally, and pure determination."

Ms Leijerstam set off from the Novo Russian air force base on 16 December taking a shorter steeper route than her rivals - American Daniel Burton and Spaniard Juan Menendez Granados - and soon had a lead on them.

image captionMaria Leijerstam opted for a shorter, steeper router than her two competitors

The former management consultant's route took her over the Leverett Glacier.

Adrianne Leijerstam added: "From the time she was 12 years old and announced she wanted to be an astronaut, Maria has always been an adventurer.

"We are thrilled she has made it in such good time."

In 1911 Norwegian Roald Amundsen was the first person to reach the South Pole using two-metre long skis.

He was five weeks ahead of the expedition party led by Robert Falcon Scott, which set out from Cardiff.

Scott and his four companions died on their return journey.

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