Polar women on top of the world

The first all-female expedition to reach the North Pole celebrated with champagne last night at the end of a 1,000-kilometre marathon across shifting sea ice.

The four-member British team, the last of five who have taken part in the relay expedition, planted their flag at 4.45am after completing their 230-km leg in 10 days.

Spokeswoman Mary Nicholson said: "They are just jubilant. I think they ran the last stretch."

Three aircraft, carrying base camp members and families of the four women, were on their way to pick them up from the Pole last night. The women expect to arrive back at their northern Canadian base at Resolute Bay during the late afternoon today. They will return to London at the weekend.

The four members who reached the North Pole were expedition leader Caroline Hamilton, a 32-year-old film financier, Zoe Hudson, 30, a physiotherapist, Lucy Roberts, 27, a journalist and designer, all from London, and Pom Oliver, 45, a film financier from High Wycombe. They were accompanied by expedition guides Matty McNair and Denise Martin, who travelled the whole way.

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