About the show

An endurance test of epic proportions

Richard’s dream is to become the fastest ever unassisted person to ski to the South Pole.

Richard is no ordinary adventurer – as a natural competitor he is on a quest to explore the limits of his endurance. He travels the world to undertake the most arduous physical challenges known to man, events that take place in some of the most remote and unforgiving parts of the planet.

Starting in Nepal, he’ll race at altitude with some of world’s best mountain bikers. Then he travels to the Peruvian Amazon for the Jungle Ultra – a six-day monster multi-marathon race. Next he heads home to north Wales for a double ironman event – it’s called The Brutal for a good reason. And finally he heads south to Antarctica, the most hostile environment in the world, for his race to the pole.

These events will test Richard to the max, both physically and mentally. And will redefine our understanding of the physical capabilities of the human body.


Xtreme Endurance: Race to the Pole

Richard Parks

Extreme environment athlete Richard Parks was born in Wales in 1977 to a Jamaican mother and Welsh father. He attended boarding schools in Wales and South Africa, but his standout skill as a child quickly became obvious – he excelled at rugby.

Richard first started showing promise as a rugby union player after starting to play the game at age 11, and was selected to play for Welsh Schools at under-18 level. He became a professional rugby player after leaving school, signing his first contract with Newport Rugby Football Club whilst simultaneously studying for a degree in dentistry from Cardiff University.

Although he suffered a serious back injury at the age of 20, his sporting career flourished and he went on to become a back row forward representing his country and playing for famed clubs including Pontypridd, Leeds, Perpignan and The Barbarians. But after sustaining a serious shoulder injury in 2009, Richard was forced to retire early from the sport that he loved.

Whilst recovering from surgery following the injury, Richard read a book by explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes and was inspired to start refocusing his life towards endurance and adrenalin-fuelled pursuits. In 2010, Richard embarked on the 737 Challenge, endeavouring to become the first ever person to climb the highest mountain on each of the world's seven continents and stand on all three poles – the North Pole, the South Pole and the summit of Everest – all within seven months. He successfully completed the challenge in July 2011, raising thousands of pounds for Marie Curie Cancer Care.

But he didn’t stop there. At the start of 2014, Richard became the fastest Briton in history to ski solo, unsupported and unassisted from the coast of Antarctica to the South Pole, completing the journey in 29 days, 19 hours and 24 minutes. He also became the first Welsh person to complete that challenge!