> Meet 45 year old Ann Bancroft || |
Ann Bancroft, Polar Explorer|
The air is thick, hot and wet on the kind of Minnesota summer day that always precedes a thundershower. Forty-five-year-old Ann Bancroft lounges next to the small red barn that serves as garage and gear closet, with sleds and skis and cars competing for space.
Bancroft watches as her teammate, 47-year-old Liv Arnesen, strapped into a nylon harness, pulls three tracker tires. Together they will attempt to be the first women to traverse Antarctica. Pulling tires is a favorite training ritual of both.
At first glance, 5-foot-3-inch Bancroft is not what you would expect in a hearty polar explorer. There is nothing outwardly outstanding about her: She is not a striking physical specimen like Liv, who is 5 feet 11 inches tall, and she doesn't have the huge personality of your typical high-profile adventurer. But like an iceberg, there is much more to Bancroft than meets the eye.
The former schoolteacher from St. Paul will tell you the main thrust of the expedition is to educate and inspire children around the globe to pursue their dreams. But in the process, her exploits show the rest of us that age has nothing to with the grandeur of what can be accomplished. And that grandeur lies not only in mighty explorations but also in finding the confidence to live a life that plays to your passion.
Bancroft's strength comes from within. Soft-spoken, gracious and giddy, she breathes the kind of inner confidence that pulls up those around her. Without trying, it's the air of a natural leader.
And it's leadership born out of a special motivation. "I didn't go for any other reason but to fulfill my dreams," she says of a 1986 trip to the North Pole that propelled her into the national spotlight. "I think we do best when we follow our passions."
That is exactly what Bancroft does. On a 1993 trip to the South Pole, a 67-day, 660-mile expedition, the 17-year veteran educator lugged a 30-pound radio so she could update students from around the world. Bancroft's latest adventure will also combine her love of teaching with her love of exploration. There will be daily e-mail updates and a curriculum that will be used by teachers from more than 40 countries.
And at an age when most people have the unexpected stirrings of "I'll leave that to the younger folks," Bancroft shows no signs of stopping.
"I love being a catalyst for breaking down barriers and myths," she says. The explorer is doing just that. Is it her training? No. Bancroft calls it her lifestyle. She bikes, runs, kayaks, climbs and skis. She is active in the outdoors, not because she is training, but because that's who she is and this is what she does. She is true to herself and she is an explorer.
Bancroft proves you don't have to outgrow your passions.
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|Days on the ice: 91|
|Position: 84.23S, 177.16W|
|Altitude: 184.0 ft|
|Temp: 14.0°F | -10.0°C|
|Distance: 1708.95 miles|