Alex's Siberian endurance challenge breaks British record

02 Apr 2019

An EMIS Health employee who risked frostbite, falling through thin ice and coming face to face with hungry bears for charity has earned a British record for a gruelling trek.

Alex Buckland, 33, from Darwen, near Blackburn, works as a community health product manager for healthcare IT supplier EMIS Health.

He swapped software for Siberia to take part in the 100 mile expedition across Lake Baikal – the world’s largest frozen lake in Siberia.

And after six long days pulling heavy sledges for 30 km in -20-degree temperatures, Alex has returned triumphant, raising almost £2,000 for a mental health charity and celebrating being part of the first British team to make the trip unaided.

Alex, who was joined by his friend and expedition leader Phil Hayday-Brown, and fellow adventurer Jonathan Zeffert, said: “It was tough. It was physically exhausting. It’s such an isolated place that it felt very lonely at times.

“But we are very proud.  We achieved a complete circumnavigation of Olkhon Island - Lake Baikal and are the first British team on record to do so unsupported in winter.”

Alex, who is married to Vladimira and dad to Lexi, six, and Emma, four, chose to take on the challenge to raise money for mental health charity Mind, which he says provides a vital service.

Alex said: “There’s a real synergy between this challenge and how I felt when I was at my worst.

“I could easily have fallen into a downward spiral and become quite affected by it, which is a lot like everyday life for people with mental health issues.”

He added: “I'm really happy with what we've managed to do as a team and for Mind. Huge thanks to EMIS Health, our sponsors Montane and Nordic Life, and of course my family for all their support.

“The JustGiving campaign is still open for anyone who still wants to contribute!”

Alex took on the challenge in March 2019.

Alex vs Siberia