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On Top at Earth's Bottom: Walking With the Wounded South Pole Allied Challenge Teams Reach Their Destination

Friday, December 13, 2013

From staff reports 

They’ve made it to the bottom of the world.

Despite horrid weather conditions that turned the race more into a group trek, members of all three Walking With the Wounded South Pole Allied Challenge teams arrived at the South Pole around 7 a.m. EDT on Friday.

The USO is sponsoring former Army Sgt. Margaux Mange on the journey.

“It is the first time in a month that we have seen a structure and the whole team just stopped and stared at it for about 5 minutes – it was a very surreal experience,” wrote Team Noom’s Alexander Skarsgard on Walking With The Wounded’s website. Skarsgard – an actor best known for his role on HBO’s “True Blood” – accompanied three medically retired American troops during the expedition.

“To literally see the end of this adventure was very emotional for all of us.”

The three teams – comprised of U.S., British and Canadian and Australian troops, respectively – started their race Dec. 1. However, impassable weather conditions forced them to suspend the race on Dec. 7, take transportation closer to the pole, and then resume as a group.

Mange, who has done extreme expeditions before, said positive thinking is the key to getting through the extreme elements. She was hit twice by improvised explosive devices while deployed to Iraq in 2006. Her injuries led to several surgeries and she now lives with a constant headache due to nerve damage.

“If you are constantly thinking about your pain, is going to overwhelm you,” she was quoted as saying Friday on Walking With the Wounded’s website. “So I noticed over the days that you just stay in a mode of ‘here now.’

“I know that everyone out here is in pain, and they’re suffering. But if they just talk with other people and find happiness, then this is where they’re going to be. I’m staying in the moment and I am going to be happy where I am at.”

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Photo caption: Former Army Sgt. Margaux Mange. (Photo courtesy of Walking With the Wounded)  

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