Sarah Williams, Regional Manager for the East Midlands, recently completed the Lakes to London challenge with Her Spirit in aid of Breast Cancer Now.
The challenge itself saw Williams and Her Spirit Co-Founders Mel Berry and Holly Woodford swim 5km across Lake Windermere, cycle over 450km from Windemere to London, then run the London Marathon in aid of Breast Cancer Now.
“Within the Her Spirit community, there are many women who have had their own Breast Cancer journey,” Williams said.
“We actually had two community members on our support team who had had their own Breast Cancer journey and it's those things that tied into giving us that motivation. The team at Breast Cancer Now were just so supportive of what we were doing and I can't really thank them enough.”
The challenge itself saw Williams, Berry and Woodford swim, bike, run 500km each from 29 September to 2 October, with the challenge concluding at the finish line of this year’s London Marathon.
“We were due to do the swim on the 30 September but actually did the swim on the 29th of September for safety reasons,” Williams continued. “So the 30th was the first day of biking. We did see a glimpse of the sun at one point, but sadly, that's all we saw, a glimpse.
“It was just really challenging. Wet and windy conditions, but what we had alongside the three of us was an amazing support crew who were with us every step of the way. Day one was Windermere to Uttoxeter and then day two, Uttoxeter to London. Then finishing off with the London Marathon was just an incredible experience.”
For many, the thought of a marathon is challenging enough, let alone after swimming and cycling that distance in consecutive days. Reflecting on completing the challenge, Williams added:
“Still now it's very emotional. I think the tiredness, but also just what we've done and what we've achieved as a team (so far raising £72,000 for Breast Cancer Now) the memories and emotions are still high because of it. It was such an amazing five days that we all had together on an amazing journey.”
Additionally to the three women who took on the challenge, a six-week virtual challenge allowed others to get involved in their own way. Over six weeks, participants could swim, bike, run, walk or wheel to help raise funds for Breast Cancer Now, whether that was the same total distances as Williams, Berry and Woodford or not.
Her Spirit is a community offering online and in-person exercise and training sessions for women wanting to get fitter, stronger and healthier together through swim, bike, run.
Williams works with organisations such as Her Spirit in her role as East Midlands Regional Manager, supporting and facilitating in the delivery and growth of participation in swim, bike, run.
“What they've actually done is created a new kind of triathlon club essentially,” she said. “They haven't called it a club, it's called a community and that connects those three pillars of mind, body and fuel, so that people are getting active.
“My day-to-day job is working with East Midland clubs, coaches, volunteers and from increasing participation to increasing our workforce, to actually being on the end of the phone when somebody has got a query.
“Our responsibility is to look after our core market, the triathlon clubs, the people who are active and those who are helping keep the sport of triathlon going, but also trying to get a new audience within triathlon.
“As part of our development strategy called The BIG Active, we have priority place areas, I have two of those, one in Nottingham city and one in Leicester city, and it really is taking swim, bike, run to a new audience.
“At the end of the day, we’re trying to get them active in either one of those disciplines, not necessarily the end goal being a triathlon, but actually just increasing their participation and increasing activity levels and a healthier lifestyle.”
To find out more about the work that Williams does and to get in touch with her around participation in swim, bike, run, email firstname.lastname@example.org.