Former Axminster soldier completes Arctic challenge

PUBLISHED: 08:01 06 May 2019 | UPDATED: 09:17 09 May 2019

The successful Acrtic Challenge Team. Picture: Combat Stress

The successful Acrtic Challenge Team. Picture: Combat Stress

Archant

Steve and his team travel 2,200 miles in the snow and ice in less than three days

Driving through the Arctic snow. Picture Combat Stress.Driving through the Arctic snow. Picture Combat Stress.

A former soldier from Axminster has successfully completed an expedition to the most northern point in Europe - in less than three days.

Steve Mackenney, 49, led a 12-strong team of volunteers driving six four 4x4 vehicles, to the Arctic Circle - travelling to Nordkapp island, at the very top of Norway.

Their challenge was to complete the 2,200 mile journey through snow and ice in just 75 hours.

In the end the team, mostly from Devon, did it in an incredible 69 hours and 23 minutes, raising £3,257 for the Armed Forces charity Combat Stress - the UK's leading mental health organisation aiding former service personnel.

Mr Mackenney said: "We set off from Axminster for an amazing adventure to drive to more than 400 miles inside the Artic circle.

"The first signs of snow appeared in Sweden but the big event going north was hitting the Artic circle. We kept driving into the night - finally we crossed and I welcomed everyone to the Arctic.

"We could feel our goal was in reach, 400 miles left and the thought of a proper sleep in the pre booked hotel was enough to keep everyone in the game."

"The higher we got the colder it went. The temperature was well below freezing and on the cape it went down to minus 16 .

"The first sign of our imminent success was the tunnel to Nordkap island which dropped 1km under the Barents Sea and climbed slowly out the other side to reveal the beautiful island covered in snow. We'd done it all that was left was to find the hotel to be able to stop the clock."

Combat Stress is a cause close to Mr Mackenney's heart as, having served in the Royal Logistic Corps, he has a number of friends who are suffering with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Added Mr Mackenney: "Every penny donated will go direct to Combat Stress as each driving pair is self funding their travel expenses."

Mr Mackenney, whose current work involves teaching people survival techniques, said the journey took two years to plan.

"Everybody worked really hard to prepare for the expedition, bringing their own skills to the group as well as raising money," he said.

Mr Mackenney is already planning his next trip for 2020 which will be to North Africa and the Sahara Desert.

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