Many people I know are battling Breast Cancer day after day and their life is full of endless uphill struggles to reach often seemingly unattainable goals pushing through their tough treatment and suffering to get to the other side. I cannot begin to imagine how difficult that is, and feel quite helpless knowing quite how I can make any difference to these brave warriors.
I am going to try to push my physical and mental limits to the edge and beyond to raise funds for Walk the Walk. This will hopefully help fund innovative projects that WILL make the difference to finding a cure to this all too common problem that affect so many lives, those of sufferers and families alike. Men, children and teenagers can develop breast cancer.
In May 2011, after 2 yrs trying to reverse and eradicate my own health problems that had plagued me for many, many years, and made any type of exercise difficult, I crossed the line at Walk's the Walk's London Moonwalk (marathon distance) which for me then was a massive achievement. For those that have known me for some time, I was the least likely person to be getting off the sofa, had not done any type of exercise before 2009 and had been overweight since the age of 9. Throughout the years my weight had steadily piled on and had culminated in a very alarming figure in excess of 23 stone in February 2009. This had brought with it High blood pressure, Prediabetes, Obstructive Sleep Apnoea, Arthritis, IBS, Diverticulitis, an Irregular heart beat, Gall bladder removal following gall stones, an Underactive thyroid, Pernicious Anaemia and Raynaud's Syndrome.
When ill and off work, depressed and temporarily defeated by the problems my weight issues had caused, I stumbled on The Biggest Loser, a new TV series to me, the UK's 3rd and I was quite moved by the stories of misery I heard from the contestants. This was me. I had never seen such overweight people attempt such extreme exercise schedules and this motivated me to sign up to the website the next day and start taking my first steps walking to the nearest lamp post; quite an effort at the time. With the support, knowledge, encouragement and help I received from so many special people over the next two years, I lost over 13 stone, reversed many of my health issues in the process and the sky became the limit. Who would have thought I had a hidden passion for Body Combat, Martial Arts and punchbags !
My marathon success (a suggestion by another site member that I trained for gradually over a year) sparked a sense of achievement never felt before and within 6 weeks I had entered and completed 2 more. I was hooked and I couldn't stop. The more people said I couldn't possibly manage the next crazy challenge , the more I was determined to show them I could.
Roll on 5 yrs and here I am with the following successes - 3 x 100k (62 mile) events, 2 x 40 mile plus events, 41 Ultra marathons (Over 27 miles) 59 marathons, 5 x 30k (18 mile) events, 36 Half Marathons, 7 x 10k (6 mile) events and 11 x 5k (3 mile)events.
In September 2016, I became the oldest woman in the world (63) to complete this year's Grand to Grand Ultra, a self-supported multi day event, said to be one of the toughest extreme challenges, in one of the most remote and inhospitable climates through the Utah and Arizona deserts in America. I had to carry everything I needed to survive a week of temperature extremes, clothes, sleeping bag, mat, food, snacks, navigation devices, safety equipment etc.
The course was a mix of high desert landscape, sand dunes, cactus fields, red rock slot canyons, buttes, mesas and hoodoos, forest trails, rocky roads, dry river beds, river crossings, and flash floods, passing through remotest part of continental America as did the earliest settlers, Navajo and Paiute Indian tribes. It started from one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, the awe-inspiring north rim of the Grand Canyon, and finished on the summit of the Grand Staircase, one of the world's most iconic geological formations. It was the toughest thing I had ever done. No communication with the outside world, no tracking, no emergency call, often walking for hours on end with no one in sight. Dangerous challenging climbs, endless steep ascents and descents, dunes I could only crawl up on hands and knees and a constant fear that I would get bitten by a rattlesnake (out in their droves to get warm in the daytime due to the rain and cold nights) or attacked by a mountain lion when alone and unable to get help. To sum up I walked
273 km (170 miles) in 6 stages, over 7 days.
- The course started at an elevation of 5,344ft (1,629m) and finishes at 8,698ft (2,651m) with a net gain of 3,353ft (1,022m).
- The course total ascent over the six stages was 18,041ft (5,499m) with a total descent of 14,688ft (4,477m)
- I was the only female survivor over 60, taking the longest time of 80hrs 13 mins, but I did it, and scooped the over 60's Female 1st place trophy!!
My next big challenge will be Marathon des Sables in April 2017.
Again a self-supported 6 stage event of approximately 250k (156 miles) over 7 days in another inhospitable environment - The Sahara Desert.
Described as the Toughest Footrace on Earth by The Discovery Channel, it will take me through endless dunes, over rocky jebels and across white-hot salt plains. The sun will be my constant enemy with temperatures regularly reaching 50 centigrade. Water is limited. At night I will sleep in communal goat's hair Berber "tents" which are open front and back, and no protection from sandstorms meaning sleep deprivation.
I am no stranger to this event having failed twice. In 2015, I almost completed the 2nd day but was stopped 3km from the finish line as there were sandstorms ahead over the dunes and darkness was approaching. I had no time to sit it out and it was deemed unsafe to continue. In 2016, I was stopped 1km from the end of Day 1, after being delayed and lost in the worst sandstorms seen at the event in 31 yrs. With no footprints to follow, and unable to see course markers, navigation became challenging when off course. Time was wasted and the finish line had just been closed. You cannot return to fight another day if you fail to make a checkpoint by it's closing time or make up time over the day if you have a problem somewhere.
As people will know, I refuse to give up, just like many of the cancer sufferers I know and am hoping to make this 3rd time lucky. I will give it my all and have and will be working hard to improve my fitness and walking speed to achieve this. When times get tough, I will remember those whose daily struggle to fight Breast Cancer far exceeds anything I am experiencing and I will push to my limits every step of the way.
All of the costs of these challenges have and will be met by me. Every penny of your donation will go directly to help Walk the Walk's pioneering work. Thanks for taking the time to visit and read my Justgiving Page.
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