There are some “firsts” in life that are so incredible that you know you will never be able to replicate the feeling ever again – and my first experience of Antarctica was exactly that. I will never forget my first sight of the coastline from the plane, or the overwhelming experience of stepping onto the Antarctic snow for the first time. Trying to describe it does not do it justice – wild, barren, beautiful, intensely white and bright, rugged, mountainous, untouched. I felt truly blessed to be standing at one end of the earth, on land where few feet had been before.

We didn’t have too long to take in the beauty of it all, as it was off to bed for a quick sleep before helping Donna take her first step on the 10km loop that would become her “home” for the next 30 days. The first few days were a blur, settling into camp life, adjusting to the cold, the time zone, and the logistics of trying to get Donna into a safe and sustainable routine.

There are a few experiences that I will never forget. Firstly, some incredible people were camping including elite mountaineers and expeditioners. Vincent Colliard was one of these. One of the greatest expeditions of our generation, Vincent is a passionate advocate for our planet, especially polar environments.

He was about to embark on a mission to be the fastest person to complete a solo, unassisted trek from Hercules Inlet to the South Pole. And then there were two “normal” people, American mountain climbers Tim and John who were working their way through the seven summits, in Antarctica to conquer Mount Vincent. The stories of Tim and John were spine tingling – the feats, the accomplishments, the near-death experiences.

But what struck home for me was the awe and respect they had for Donna. Vincent, Tim, and John all thought the challenge Donan was undertaking was unbelievable. They thought it was crazy hard, and this from three people who have experienced daunting polar hardships and challenges.

If seeing the 10km course and experiencing the weather conditions made me realise the enormity of Donna’s challenge, then listening to the views of these three raised the enormity of the challenge even further.

The other experience that I will cherish is the privilege of accompanying Donna on some loops, albeit on a bike. Riding alongside her, and chatting freely and openly about all aspects of life, will always be one of my great life moments. But I also often pedalled behind her, watching this amazing woman, our leader and inspiration, taking step after step forward towards her goal. Never a complaint, never a negative comment, just a passionate determination to make a difference for young girls in sports. And whilst following Donna, admiring and thinking about the traits of a successful leader, it made me think about my position, as a representative of not only our team but the enormous amount of believers and followers of Donna’s mission.

You cannot be a great leader if you don’t have a team to lead. And you cannot be a great team unless you have a great leader. As passionate and driven and immensely strong as Donna is, I realised that the support of all of you, all of us, behind Donna is such a critical part of Donna’s success – supporting, liking, sharing, commenting, just being there.

I was asked recently if I truly believed that Donna would complete the 1300km and break the world record. I have absolutely no doubt at all that she will do this. “Faster alone, further together” is one of the taglines of our project. This photo is one of my favourite memories – I took it whilst riding behind Donna. It shows an incredible person, an inspirational leader, pushing forward step after step, facing fears, and embracing the environmental beauty and challenge. What is not in the picture is the groundswell of support, friendship and love that you all bring, that keeps the momentum going for Donna, especially in tough times.

Donna is halfway, and the second half will no doubt be tougher, but she will succeed.