email a friend iconprinter friendly iconThe Life: Pen Hadow
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A: You’ve had frostbite before, right?

PH: Ulcerated lips, actually, on another trip to the Pole. They stuck together at night and oozed blood whenever I laughed.

A: We hear you have unusually short fingers and toes that confer an advantage in extreme cold. How does that work?

PH: They are at the shorter end of the spectrum, but not freakish. Since my distal regions are closer to my heart than most people’s, I’m less prone to hypothermia.

A: It seems like your personality is naturally suited to these types of challenges too. When you were seven, you hung upside down from a tree for four hours; at 15 you ran your first marathon. What drives you?

PH: Growing up, I’d deliberately lose my way in the Scottish Highlands. I’d leave food and drink in the bushes and wander off, just for the challenge. I loved running and pushed myself very hard, but I couldn’t cope with the stress of racing; I got ill and really depressed. Eventually I found a discipline I was suited for—with my short hands and small feet!

A: Did your rigorous upbringing—getting tossed outside in thin clothing in freezing weather—have anything to do with it?

PH: For the record, my nanny was really the sweetest woman. My father, I imagine, drew inspiration from our ancestors and told her to do that. My great-great-uncle, Douglas Hadow, was a member of the doomed party that made the first ascent of the Matterhorn. And his brother, Frank, won the singles title at Wimbledon.

A: So, what next?

PH: Who knows? I’ve made the depressing discovery that I will never be able to live a quiet life pruning roses in the garden. It’s just not how I am. Not yet at least.

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