A WOMAN with a taste for adventure has just returned from what has been dubbed 'the toughest race in the world'.
Jo Molyneaux, of Headsworth Close, Kingsmead, competed in the gruelling Scott Dunn Polar Challenge to the magnetic North Pole.
The Polar Challenge was first held in 2003 and the fact that the inaugural race was completed by hardened teams of soldiers, marines and commandos speaks volumes for how demanding the event is.
The race was opened to the public last year but with a cross-country route spanning 320 miles through hostile, unpredictable terrain, while pulling a 120-180lb sledge behind you, it is not for the faint-hearted.
Jo certainly can't be described as that - the 43-year-old does six half-marathons a year and in the past has undertaken punishing challenges such as a trek in the Himalayas.
She said she was keen to sign up for the race as soon as she heard about it, but there was also a more personal motivation.
Jo said: 'One of the main reasons was to raise money for the Genesis Appeal - the building of a breast cancer prevention and treatment centre at Wythenshaw Hospital.
'I'd made this promise to a friend who died of breast cancer in October 2003. She was aged 40 and left behind two young sons, it was quite a wake-up call. So far I've raised £12,500 for the appeal, and the money is still coming in.'
Looking back her on Arctic adventure, Jo feels she's truly earned every penny by reaching the finishing line.
She said: 'It was an absolutely outstandingly beautiful area, one of the last wildernesses, but it was also an extreme and hostile environment and not one to underestimate.
'I left on April 12 and trained at Resolute Bay, in the northern most town in Canada, which is the starting point for all arctic adventures.
'There were 16 teams taking part, I was with Team Pegasus, and for five days we were all skiing as a large group to the start line of the race, which began on April 23.
'We reached the magnetic North Pole on Saturday, May 7, and crossed the finish on the Sunday, coming 15th out of the 16 teams.
'It was very tough skiing 12 hours a day but the rewards were so big compared to the effort - I had huge support from friends, family and colleagues so I felt I'd earned their support and belief in me.'
For her next adventure Jo has her eye on the Marathon Des Sable in the Sahara and the Iron Man Triathlon.