A couple of miles away from the North Pole, Dwayne Fields turned around to face the horizon. For the first time in his entire life, he felt surrounded by nothingness. “I realised it was just me, Ali and Linda. I got this feeling of ‘us against the world’ sort of thing”, he recalls as he sips his tea in a tiny cafe in Dalston. Applications open on May 18 and Dwayne needs all the support he can get to make his latest ambition reality. The 28-year-old who I am meeting a few steps away from the bank where he works, is the first black Briton to reach the northernmost point of earth. He was participating in the Polar Challenge 2010 race as part of Team Global Village (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polar_Challenge ). “I was out of the country for over five weeks and I was walking on ice for 22 days”, he recalls.
Jamaica-born and Hackney-raised Dwayne decided to embark on this journey after a series of violent events. “One of my friends was shot down and I had a gun pointed at me”. These experiences were so powerful that he decided to take action: “I wanted to do something unusual to get people to really think and stop this kind of things from happening to anyone else. I thought reaching the North Pole is so unstereotypical of what society sees a young black person doing that it might just have the impact I wanted.”
Once he made up his mind, Fields literally began from scratch. “I had to get a year of training but the most difficult aspect of the project was the funding”. In order to participate he needed £23.000. “I tried to get at team together to help me but it didn’t work out. Once people realised how difficult something like this is they started to drop out. It was really disheartening. The only thing I was left with was my drive and desire.”
Failing to get any external funding, he had to save his salary, get rid of his car, his insurance and invest every penny he got in an ambitious project that would bring him face to face with life-threatening conditions. “At some point we came across a polar bear, her recalls. “When we noticed it started following a hunting pattern we fired to its direction it to scare it off”.
His polar memories may sound distant on Dalston Lane but a few retain their visceral feeling. “Reaching the North Pole was the most amazing experience. People tend to think there is a big sign, light and rainbows, but there really wasn’t”, he says, joking. “Nevertheless, achieving what I set out to achieve and after all the sacrifices I had to make, was the most unforgettable moment in my life.”
After avoiding threatening polar bears, saving a musk ox and surviving in -50C temperatures, Fields is making new plans. He has set up a Youth Foundation, preparing for a 2012 mission to South Pole, and writing his first book. “I want to inspire people to do things they wouldn’t normally do and to convince them that they are bound only by their own limitations.”
One way he hopes to do that is to carry the Olympic Flame for Hackney along with his friend and ex-trainer Edmund Shillabeer. “Me and Edmond signify two completely different spectrums, he is a 72-year old a white guy, middle class and I am the total opposite. I think our joined run would signify what the Olympics are all about: bringing people together in sport, which is where we originally met.”
You can nominate Dwayne here
Dwayne Fields Official Site (http://dwaynefields.org )
You can support his application to carry the Olympic torch here: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=104191809628620