I was inspired to take it on because I'm a very determined person and love a challenge, so once I heard about the event there was no turning back. It's supposedly the 'most gruelling and most challenging endurance event known to man' and I knew that completing a race like this is 20% physical ablility and 80% mental ability, and was psyched to give it a go. To be honest I signed up without giving it much thought… how hard could it be?!
Most people dedicate years of their lives to training for such an event. I pride myself on having a fairly normal life by doing the majority of my training in the early/late hours to limit the impact on my working or social life. My training began daily at 6am before work, followed by an evening workout and longer sessions at weekends.
A normal weekend for me is socialising on a Friday and Saturday, before getting up at 5:30am to run a marathon and go for a swim on Sunday, then finishing about lunchtime to spend the rest of the day with friends and family. In my opinion, there's no better training than doing it with a hangover!
I'm a very sporty person and maintain a good level of fitness. So specifically for this challenge I endured approximately 12 month of training, consisting of running marathons and doing long swims. One training session which certainly sticks in my mind was doing a marathon in January in thick snow and the pitch black!
Each part of the challenge was extremely tough in its own right. The swim, however, was incredibly difficult and was made even harder by the rough weather. Nine people set off that day to swim the Channel, but five turned back early on because of the conditions. I also had to face jellyfish, huge sections of weed, the tide, rubbish, hypothermia and sea sickness, but thankfully no sharks! This section of the challenge took 19hrs, in which I was unable to communicate with my team. You also know that no matter how hard you swim, if the boat captain judges the tide wrong he may never allow you the opportunity to touch down in France at all as you get swept into the Celtic or North Sea.
I began at 3am on a Tuesday morning. Twenty hours later after running 87miles in 30°C heat, I made it to Dover where we spent the night before setting off the next evening at 12pm to swim the Channel. Nineteen hours later we arrived at the rough shores of Cap Gris-Nez. The boat dropped us off at the start of the bike where I slept for three-and-a-half hours before jumping on the bike and riding the 181miles to Paris.
In total it took 92hrs to complete the challenge. This time meant I became the world record holder for a lady, the fourth quickest ever (out of the 10 who had managed to complete it!) and the youngest person ever to succeed in the challenge!
A few years ago I ran the London Marathon and at the finish line I received a t-shirt which said 'never again…until the next time' on the front, and I couldn't agree more. At the moment I'm enjoying the recovery period, but I don't know how long it'll be until the next big challenge is in the diary!