To celebrate International Women’s Day, it seemed like a very deserved time to shine the spotlight on some of the incredible women we have supported over the last year.
Pip Hare, single-handed ocean racing sailor, Vendeé Globe
Pip has a professional sailing career which spans 25 years, she has sailed most of the world’s oceans, has two world first endurance records, and is the winner of multiple international yacht races. In February 2021, she became only the eighth female to ever complete the Vendée Globe, crossing the finish line after 95 days, 11 hours, 37 minutes and 30 seconds at sea.
Known as the Everest of the seas, The Vendée Globe is a non-stop 24,000-mile race, circumnavigating the world, solo, without assistance. Unlike many sports, male and female athletes compete on equals terms, and fewer than 100 international skippers have completed the race.
We first met Pip in spring 2020, when she was preparing to take on the Vendée Globe, a race she had been dreaming about taking part in since she was a teenager. What was clear from the off, was that Pip was possibly one of the most determined athletes we were ever going to work with. This determination paid off, when she became the first British skipper to finish the 20/21 race.
Aside from her determination, Pip’s enthusiasm and positivity towards any situation sets her apart from many. Veteran French ocean racer Jean Le Cam, who finished fourth in this year’s race, described Pip as “a ray of sunshine, what she is doing in incredible,”.
So, what’s next for Pip? This is only the start of Pip's Vendée Globe journey, she wants to come back in 2024 with a more competitive race in a foiling boat.
Claire Smith, Ultra Endurance Athlete, self-supported run from John O’Groats to Lands’ End
Aptly known to many as ‘Brutal Claire’ for good reason, Claire has undertaken her fair share of ultra-events. Many people consider an Ironman distance triathlon to be enough, not Claire. After completing her first Ironman in 2006, Claire progressed to a Double, Triple, Quin and Deca ironman. In 2019 Claire became the first (and only!) person in the UK to complete a Double Deca. To put that into perspective, that is 20 Ironman distance triathlons all in one go, which equates to a 48-mile swim, 2,240 miles on the bike, and 524 mile run.
In August 2020, Claire undertook a self-supported JOGLE, running over 890 miles from John O’Groats in Scotland to Lands End in Cornwall. As it was a self-supported event, Claire pushed a buggy containing all her own food and equipment. During the event, Claire was hit by horrendous weather and road closures which made the miles even more brutal, but Claire completed the JOGLE challenge in an amazing 23 days.
“I used Long Range Fuel during my 893-mile self-supported JOGLE last year and it really helped me keep going over the 23 days. Nut butter + chocolate or coffee = high energy and no blood sugar crashes. What’s not to love?”
In 2021, Claire will undertake the Arch to Arc triathlon, travelling from London’s Marble Arch, to the Arc De Triomphe in Paris. Claire will run 87 miles from London to Dover, swim the English Channel, which is a minimum of 21 miles (tide depending), and then cycle 181 miles from Calais to Paris.
Adriana Brownlee, Mountaineer, K2 Winter Expedition
Adriana discovered her love for the mountains aged nine, when she became the youngest person to complete the Three Peaks challenge (Snowdon, Scafell Pike and Ben Nevis) in under 24 hours challenge, finishing with her father in 21 hours. Adriana has since ticked off Kilimanjaro, Aconcagua and Mount Elbrus summits, and most recently, joined Nims Dai and his team on their winter expedition of K2 in Pakistan.
“My experience of K2 was one I will never forget, not only was it a chance for me to improve my climbing technically but also an opportunity to see what camaraderie and climbing for a purpose bigger than oneself can achieve... I mean I spent almost two months in one of the deadliest environments on earth with the best climbing team in the world, it still hasn’t sunk in!
The K2 expedition of 2020/21 was one that brought both excitement and sadness to the climbing community, it just goes to show, the mountains are really no joke, they must be respected, but also climbed, and most importantly with unity.”
Adriana has big plans for 2021, with an Everest and Lhotse expedition beginning in April, K2 and Broad Peak in the summer, she will certainly be an athlete to keep your eye on!
Ocean Sheroes, team of four women, rowing the Great Pacific Race
Ocean Sheroes are a team of four ambitious women who set themselves the challenge to row across the Pacific Ocean. In May 2021, Bella Collins, Purusha Gordon, Mary Sutherland and Lily Lower are taking on the Great Pacific Race, rowing 2,400nm from San Francisco to Hawaii, raising money for the Seabin Project. They’re also aiming to break the current female-four World Record of 50 days, 8 hours and 14 minutes, set in 2014.
“This campaign is so much more than rowing an ocean, we want to work with a network of change makers to create a positive impact for people and planet.”
Since its launch in 2014, only 22 teams have completed the Great Pacific Race, with only two four-person all females teams reaching the finish line. The team will be rowing around the clock, alternating two hours on, two hours off, sleeping in 90-minute blocks up to five times within a 24-hour period. Burning between 6,500-8,500 calories each day, they will experience both physical and mental challenges, including body sores, seasickness, extreme exhaustion and fatigue.
The team have been preparing for the Pacific Row since January 2020. With the impact of the pandemic playing a huge part in their preparations for the race; gyms closures, access to on water training limited, three of the team having contracted Covid, all have fulltime jobs, and one is home schooling her children. Given all they have had to handle, it would seem the biggest challenge and achievement is getting to the start line itself!
That said the team have said having a shared goal has given them a sense of purpose, a focus which has kept the team connected, motivated and even more determined to succeed.