AUTONOMOUS AQUATIC INSPECTION AND INTERVENTION
Words By: Jennifer Price
Challenge 1. KÖNIG LUDWIG LAUF 2022 Freestyle Ski Marathon (50km) Germanys biggest XC ski event and part of the Worldloppet XC ski series. The course was rolling with a total elevation gain of 830 metres; more than enough considering my training for this had consisted of rollerblading to work throughout January. I have XC skied before but not for years so it was pretty tough on the body to jump straight onto skis with no more than a quick warm up! Still, a good beat up challenge!
Challenge 2. Jurassic Coast Ultra marathon (40 miles/ 64km) The Jurassic Coast Ultra started at Abbotsbury, Dorset, and followed the beautiful but brutal Southwest Coast path all the way to Lulworth Cove. It was a very hot weekend, and this is still the longest distance I have ever run in one go. It was also self-navigated which should have been easy (keep the sea on your right…) but I managed to get temporarily navigationally challenged. It took nearly 10 hours to complete and by the end I was limp-jogging up the hill from Lulworth to the finish line.
Challenge 3. Paris Marathon (42km) (France) I had never run a city marathon before and so this had to be on the list. Considering I had run 64km over 10 hours the previous weekend I assumed this would be a breeze… but oh no, this was fast, hard and flat. The adrenaline rush from the atmosphere in Paris meant that I took off far too fast only to start piling in about halfway. The last 10km is still the most painful run experience of my life. I just scraped over the 4 hour mark.
Challenge 4. Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Race (108 miles) (UK) The annual Devizes to Westminster International Canoe Race is the world’s longest non-stop canoe race. Frequently referred to simply as DW, the race starts in Devizes, Wiltshire, and follows the Kennet & Avon Canal to join the Thames at Reading. Covering the 125-mile (108 this year due to covid) distance in kayaks or canoes, DW is one of the toughest endurance events in the world. So it is no surprise that this was the hardest event I’d ever done in my life; there were definitely tears at 2 o’clock in the morning when we were 18 hours in and, unknowingly, still had 11 hours to go. We didn’t even make the cut off but the organisers let us carry on to try and make the finish. Thanks to an incredible support crew we did, just, and I walked away very, very broken.
Challenge 5. Lands’ end to Jon O groats cycle (self-supported) (975 miles) (UK) Land’s End to John o’ Groats is the traversal of the whole length of the island of Great Britain between two extremities in the Southwest and Northeast. The traditional distance by road is 874 miles (1,407 km) and takes most cyclists 10 to 14 days. I chose a 975 mile route and squished it into 12 days unsupported; carrying all my possessions, including my 1 man bike packing tent. Let's just say Cornwall was absolutely brutal; the hills were small but too steep to cycle with all of the weight on the bike so I walked many of them. I am also not a very good cyclist (I had only attempted one 100 mile day once before - which I suffered on), so to be cycling 60 - 120 miles per day was a huge challenge for me. A sore bum, sore neck and tired legs became the norm (I used A LOT of chammy cream at the start) but by the end of the two weeks my body did adapt, and it became pretty enjoyable, despite the occasional storm day.
Challenge 6. Summit Kilimanjaro (5895 M ASL) Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa and, by default, one of the Seven Summits. It comes in at an elevation of 5895m asl which is not to be taken lightly. I took the Lemosho route which is the longest route to the summit of Kilimanjaro and therefore gives you the most time to acclimatise. The first 7 days were fairly straight forward and focused on getting our bodies adapted to the altitude (which turns out I am not that good with) and it was a bit like being back on exercise (not showering and portaloos!). The real challenge came on summit night when we climbed 1200 meters in 8 hours which, at that height, is hugely demanding. I am so glad I made it to the top, but the altitude was definitely a real threat, and I was quick to descend as I could feel the symptoms catching up with me. One incredible experience; totally humbling and awe inspiring.
Challenge 7. Iron Man Vitoria – Gasteiz (226 km) (Spain) The classic 3.9km swim, 180km cycle and 42km run (but in 30+ degrees on Northern Spain) this is the first (and only) Ironman I will ever do. Coming in at 14.5 hours, this was a super tough endurance event. I hadn’t quite comprehended that I would be cycling further than any day I did on LEJOG and then running a marathon at the end… I am so glad to say that I made it to the finish, having considered sacking it on the bike due to the intense heat. I was, yet again, very broken, but it felt pretty awesome to complete this challenge (a few days later that is…)
Challenge 8. Hadrian’s Wall Hike (self supported) (84 miles) The Hadrian’s Wall Path is an 84 mile (135 km), 4 day long National Trail stretching coast to coast across northern England, from Wallsend, Newcastle upon Tyne in the east to Bowness-on-Solway in Cumbria on the west coast.
Challenge 9. Dart 10k open water swim (10km) Starting in Totnes, hundreds of swimmers take on the River Dart, all the way to Dartmouth. A short endurance event but the longest open water swim I will have ever attempted.
Challenge 10. Ultra-marathon Jordan (250 km) A 5 day, 250km running race across the desert in Jordan. An average of a marathon a day for 5 days in temperatures of 24 – 32 degrees. Probably the toughest of all the challenges and the one I am most concerned about.
Challenge 11. Stand-up Paddle Board the English Channel At 18.5 nautical miles across the busiest shipping channel in the world, this is not for the faint of heart! On top of that consider that this will take place in November when weather conditions can get a little bit temperamental…
Challenge 12. Summit Cerro Aconcagua (6961 M ASL) This is the highest mountain in the Americas, with a summit elevation of 6,961 metres (22,838 ft), and another of the Seven Summits. This will take 3 weeks of altitude and mountaineering training. I will be climbing the summit on Christmas Day (or close to). Hopefully one hell of a finish.