Former Leeds Tykes player Richard Parks is set to become the face of adventure for Channel 5 in a new television series Xtreme Endurance: Race To The Pole.

Viewers will be treated to 4 x 1 hour shows following Richard’s quest to take on the most arduous physical challenges on the planet. The series follows his brutal year of mental and physical preparation for his solo, unsupported and unassisted Antarctica Speed Expedition and World Record attempt. 

Starting in Nepal, viewers will see Richard race at altitude with some of world’s best mountain bikers in the Yak Attack. Then he travels to the Peruvian Amazon Rainforest for the Jungle Ultra, a monster ultra marathon race that will see him run 5 marathons in 5 days. Next, he heads home to Wales for a double Ironman triathlon in Snowdonia, it’s called The Brutal for a good reason. And finally Richard heads south to Antarctica, one of the most hostile environments in the world, for his race to the South Pole. These events will test Richard to the max, both physically and mentally, and will redefine our understanding of the physical capabilities of the human body.

EPISODE 1 – THE YAK ATTACK – Friday 9th January 2015 – 7pm
Richard takes on the highest mountain bike race on Earth – the Yak Attack.
Taking place in the mighty Himalaya, comprising of 11 stages, covering 400km and with a total altitude gain of over 12,000m, this race throws every obstacle under the sun at the adventurous riders daring to take it on. Its 248 miles of some of the most brutal terrain, from the hot and dusty lowland foothills to the snow covered, oxygen thin, Thorong La pass at an altitude of 5416m/17,769ft.
The Yak Attack posed Richard with a unique challenge having only returned from a 39-day solo R&D expedition in Antarctica just two weeks before he left the UK for Nepal and after skiing solo for 974km/605 miles. Richard took on the world’s highest mountain bike race on his Specialized Epic mountain bike having lost 16kg/2.5st and arrived at the start line far from his best.
The programme follows all the dramatic (and literal) ups and downs of Richard’s journey as he attempts to complete one of the toughest endurance races in the world and begins in earnest his extreme preparation for his Antarctica Speed Record attempt.

EPISODE 2 – THE JUNGLE ULTRA – Friday 16th January 2015 – 7pm
Richard takes on a leg sapping 230km self supported ultra marathon from the Andes to the heart of the Peruvian Amazon Rainforest. The Jungle Ultra is one of the toughest footraces on the planet and in terms of ultra marathons, pros have called it even more savage than the Marathon de Sables.
After the Carstensz Pyramid leg of Richard’s 737 Challenge, he vowed never to step back into a Jungle again! Two years later and as another component of his Antarctica Speed record preparation, he broke that vow. With the aim of making himself as uncomfortable as possible, Richard took on his first ever ultra marathon.

Viewers will see Richard take on over 5 marathons in 5 days, racing from the height of 10,500ft in the Andes to the dense Amazon Rainforest in temperatures of up to 40°C and humidity levels of 100%. He faces 70 river crossings, racing through brutal terrain and unpredictable weather conditions – all in snake, spider and Jaguar territory! The Jungle Ultra is a wild, unpredictable and savagely wonderful ride; tune in to join Richard on it.

EPISODE 3 – THE BRUTAL – Friday 23rd January 2015 – 7pm
It’s called the Brutal for a good reason!
Richard takes on the final piece in his extreme preparation jigsaw by heading home to Wales to beautiful Snowdonia for a gruelling double Ironman triathlon. Of all his extreme races this was highlighted as his main deprivation test and it lived up to all expectations.
In the Double Brutal athletes complete a 4.8 mile swim taking in 4 laps around Lake Padarn, followed by a 231.92 mile bike section, which passes through the Pen-y-Pass. The Double Brutal then finishes off with almost two marathons, a 51.1 mile run which begins with an ascent and descent of Mount Snowdon, the highest mountain in the Wales. 

Due to a broken hand Richard took on two of the three elements of the Double Brutal, which saw him cycle 231.92 miles and run 51.1 miles non-stop for 37 hours, quite frankly, that was enough…yes we said non-stop for 37 hours. Prepare for more eye watering hurt and endurance from one of the toughest extreme athletes on the planet.

The moment it’s all been building towards as Richard heads to Antarctica to attempt to become the fastest man in history to ski solo and unsupported from the coast of Antarctica to the South Pole. The purest form of solo journeys… alone, without a soul in the world. It is wilderness at its most wonderful and wicked.
In arguably the most hostile environment on Earth, Richard attempts to ski 1150km/715m from Hercules Inlet on the geographical coastline of Antarctica to the South Pole faster than any human has ever done before and totally alone. He also has to film every single day of the epic journey himself. 

Richard battles the brutal Antarctic elements of whiteouts, windchill, temperatures down to -24c and sastrugi, whilst pulling a pulk (sled) that weighs around 68.2kg (10 stone 7). Viewers are given a rare insight into a world that we could barely imagine and the depths of courage, endurance and tenacity that are required to complete one of the toughest journeys in history.

The Channel 5 series, produced by Zig Zag Productions and GroupM Entertainment follows the recent launch of Richard’s first and critically acclaimed book Beyond the Horizon. The 4 one-hour shows have also broadcast recently in Canada and New Zealand.