From IT consultant to Arctic explorer - Sunderland man returns from trip of a lifetime

A North East IT consultant who swapped his desk for a week in the Arctic tundra has returned from his trip of a lifetime.

Phil Raisbeck during his Arctic trek

By day he is a mild mannered IT consultant working behind a desk in the North East.

But for six days last month, Phil Raisbeck became an Arctic explorer, covering the frozen tundra in temperatures as low as minus 30C on a sled led by a team of huskies.

Phil Raisbeck, from Ryhope in Sunderland, has returned to the UK after crossing the gruelling Fjällräven Polar to raise funds for Cancer Research UK with just six dogs, a sled and a tent for him to sleep in.

Phil was one of 20 people from across the world selected to take part in the six-day trip in April, following an 180-mile route from Signaldalen in Norway to Jukkasjärvi in Sweden.

He said: “Within minutes of starting I was shocked at how hard it actually was to handle the sled and the dogs. If anyone thought this was going to be an easy ride, you soon realised it wasn’t the case. There is so much you need to do in order to control the sled and you have to concentrate fully at all times. Within minutes my arms and legs were aching, especially when running and pushing the sled up the hills, and I was so glad I had done my training program given to me by the University of Sunderland.

 

“It really is hard to describe the whole Fjällräven Polar experience in words, photos and videos. You really have to experience it for yourself to believe and understand it. It was without doubt the hardest yet best challenge I have ever done and would do it all again in a heartbeat.

“It really was a once in a lifetime experience and I feel so lucky to have shared it with such an amazing group of people from around the world. I know I have made many lifelong friends, which has been shown by the continued constant daily contact and the already planned future adventures together.”

To prepare for the event Phil gave up alcohol and trained at Sunderland University’s sciences complex where sports scientists and students worked with him to improve his fitness levels and collated vital data to help prepare him for his trip.

The 42-year-old only took up exercise in earnest two years ago when his step-brother Ian him join him on an adventure on a 250km trek through the French Pyrenees. He has not looked back since and now spends most weekends in the Lake District, and is making his way through the 282 Munro Mountains in Scotland.

Throughout the event Phil was charged with looking after six Alaskan Huskies, and even saw the Northern Lights as he relaxed after a long day trekking.

Such was the experience of the adventure, Phil has already signed up for the Fjällräven Classic in August, a 110km summer trek through the Swedish mountains, with many of those who participated in his latest trip.

Phil said: “My flights are booked and I’ve bought my tent, so there’s no going back.”

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