A Preston woman has completed a picturesque 100-mile trek across the Himalayas in a mammoth challenge for charity.
Toni Phoenix, from Cottam, set off on the challenge in November, which saw her take in views of four of the five highest mountains in the world, including Mount Everest.
Titled the Himalayan 100 Mile Stage Race, it sees competitors running 20 miles a day for five days. The £2,000 challenge is only undertaken by a handful of people from the UK, with just 35 people taking part globally.
And 30-year-old Toni, who did the race with her boyfriend Elliott Coles, says she feels like she’s in an “exclusive club”.
Although a keen runner, Toni was competing with professional athletes from across the globe and said: “What an experience! I’m still running on adrenalin now! But our challenge didn’t start off on the best foot as Elliott was suffering from a stomach bug, so we had to fly out a day late. This meant our preparation was tough and I was also worrying about day Two and things immediately changed for the better as we woke to a 5am sunrise over Everest – truly breathtaking. We were the youngest in the group – except for an 18-year- old Canadian – and the oldest was an inspirational man in his 70s who had done the challenge for every year of the 25 years the event has been taking place. Last year he even climbed Everest after the marathon.
“I can’t lie and say the challenge was easy – far from! We ran the whole marathon at 13,000 ft above sea level, so we had a lot of altitude sickness to combat, and I suffered from insomnia the night before day three of the challenge – so it was hard going both mentally and physically.”
Toni is still counting how much she’s raised but hoped to collect at least £4,000 for four charities including Trust House Lancashire in Preston.
She said: “It was an honour to take part in the 25th year of the marathon, and we found out that the entry fees are donated to the local villages who really got involved – they were all waiting for us at the finish line which was very emotional.
“I think our highlight was on day five where we finished third – pipped only by a pro Australian athlete and a 42 x Ironman Man winner – that was such a great feeling, as was realising that we’d managed to raise £5,000 in our efforts!”
Toni is now undertaking another unique challnege as she prepares for a charity boxing match in February.
Once again, the money she raises from being sponsored will go to charity.