Many of you who visit the Chamwell Centre will know of (the always cheerful) Julie de Leeuw. Not only is she Chamwell’s Operations Manager, she’s also our in-house ‘pocket rocket’. When most of us are thinking of how we can spend our days away from work relaxing at home or with friends and family, Julie is planning her training schedule. You remember that day last week when it reached 2 degrees Celsius? Well, Julie had her day off and was out kayaking. “Sorry!”, she typed in her text – “my fingers are freezing, I can’t type properly I’m so cold after 40 miles of kayaking”. You see, Julie and her husband Anton are Adventure Racers.
In August they competed in the Adventure Racing World Championships in Galacia, Spain. They raced against 100 teams from around the world navigating 630km of brutal but stunning landscape, trekking, kayaking, mountain biking, and orienteering, all the while being completely unsupported and racing against a clock that never stops for sleep. Without any assistance, only 6 hours sleep in 5 days and suffering extreme hypothermia and major blisters they finished the race.
We tracked their progress online. One day it looked like they were going the wrong way compared to the rest of the field. “We probably were” said Julie, “I suffered hypothermia four times that day and it was pretty tough”. Another day they missed the last gondola to the top of the mountain for the next stage of the race. Others did too – but they gave up. Not Julie and Anton’s team – they only went and cycled up the mountain to be met by their fellow competitors with a standing ovation. Despite everything thrown at them, they crossed the line beating over half the course. That’s how tough and committed they are.
Having thought the race in Galacia might have been the race to get extreme and ultra-endurance sport out of their system, they have instead registered for Expedition Africa in March 2022.
We’ve asked Julie to share her training and planning schedule with us on the Chamwell Centre website in the run up to the next race – so that we can all be inspired by their commitment and determination. You see, not only do they race for their own sense of satisfaction – but they also do it to raise funds for the Chamwell Centre.
Julie tells us “However gruelling the race, there’s always the opportunity to stop and make the fatigue, muscle pain, and cognitive difficulties fade away over time. Yet, if you are born or acquire a physical, neurological, or intellectual disability – every day is a major challenge. Adventure Racing is not everyone’s cup of tea; however, it is how we can partner with the Chamwell Centre to raise both awareness and money for the members”.
Follow Julie and Anton’s preparations (and pain!) for the next big race on their sporting calendar – and you can support their fundraising too by donating here