Bacon, butter fuel fastest South Pole trek

Adventurers set new record by completing 700-mile expedition in 33 days

SYDNEY, Australia - A trio of Canadian adventurers said Friday they have set a new record for fastest trek across Antarctica to the South Pole, after suffering through whiteout conditions, temperatures as low as minus 40 and a steady diet of deep-fried bacon and butter.

Ray Zahab said he and his teammates completed the 700-mile journey from Hercules Inlet on Antarctica's Ronne Ice Shelf to the South Pole in 33 days, 23 hours and 30 minutes, finally arriving Thursday.

"If you took a cloud, wrapped it around your head and then duct-taped it, that's what a whiteout is like," a weary yet animated Zahab, 39, of Chelsea, Quebec, told The Associated Press by satellite phone from Antarctica. "It was exhausting."

Zahab is best known for his epic 4,300-mile run across the Sahara Desert in 2007, which was the subject of a documentary narrated by actor Matt Damon entitled "Running the Sahara."

Tom Sjogren, founder of ExplorersWeb.com, a New York-based Web site that compiles statistics on adventurers' feats, said the men beat the previous record of 39 days, 7 hours and 49 minutes, which was set by American Todd Carmichael just last month.

"They have definitely broken the record," said Sjogren, who uses a variety of materials, including photographs of explorers' GPS coordinates and their logs, to help verify adventurers' records.

Massive blisters
Zahab and his teammates Kevin Vallely of North Vancouver and Richard Weber of Alcove, Quebec documented their journey on their Web site, using their satellite phone to post photos and podcasts along the way. They pulled 170-pound sleds of equipment, with Zahab traveling on foot and on snowshoes while the other two men skied. At night, they hunkered down in a tent to sleep.

The men suffered altitude sickness, vertigo and massive, painful blisters. They kept themselves fueled with a 7,000-calorie-a-day diet of deep-fried bacon, cheese and huge chunks of butter.

"I am dying for pizza," Zahab said with a sigh Friday. "All I've been thinking about is pizza."

He was longing, too, for his 6-month-old daughter, Mia Sahara, and wife of two years, Kathy.

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