An inspirational team of women have taken part in a ‘Lakes to London’ challenge that stretched their every nerve and sinew, as they continue to close in on their target of raising £100,000 for Breast Cancer Now.

Her Spirit Lakes to London team Holly, Mel and Sarah with Donna Fraser, who ran the London Marathon with them, and Kate – Breast Cancer Now’s head of events

Holly Woodford and Mel Berry are the co-founders of Her Spirit, the health and exercise app for women dubbed ‘the friendly coach in your pocket’.

They, along with Her Spirit community member and British Triathlon regional manager Sarah Williams, swam, cycled and ran approximately 500km non-stop.

Starting at 4pm last Thursday (29 September), they each swam 5km across Lake Windermere, cycled 453km to London, then ran the London Marathon (26.2 miles), and completed the challenge at 4pm on Sunday. Currently, they have already raised £70,000 and are well on their way to hitting their £100,000 target.

Separately, four-time Olympian and Breast Cancer Now ambassador, Donna Fraser OBE, led a Breast Cancer Now relay team.

Here the Her Spirit team answer a Q&A all about the mammoth challenge:


Who had the idea for the Lakes to London event?

Holly had the idea in the depths of January when on a static bike with Louise Minchin [the former BBC presenter]. She wanted to run the London Marathon. At the same time she wanted to do something big and compelling, and at the same time raise money for an amazing charity.

What inspired you to set yourselves this challenge?

We always want to make a difference to women’s lives and so many women at Her Spirit are having, or have had, a breast cancer experience.

Were you daunted or excited by the challenge?

One hundred per cent daunted, but at the same time excited. It’s a challenge that took us all out of our comfort zones.

Had you ever attempted anything like this before?

Nothing as bold as this. A marathon? Yes. Long bike rides? Yes. Long swims? Yes - and many triathlons. But this was a very different challenge in so many ways. It was a hugely physical event and a great way to see our wonderful country.

How much training did you have to do for this challenge?

We trained hard for many months and had mini goals within this. It was good to have mini goals as part of the challenge to keep us focused.

Were there any low points during your training? If so, what has inspired you to dig deep and keep going with the training?

A few low points – the impact of fatigue and not wanting to train, and not being able to complete some of the smaller challenges along the way. We thought about the WHY and that was the reason we got out of bed most days.

Why did you choose to team up with Breast Cancer Now?

Many community members are at different points in their breast cancer experience. They were our inspiration all the way to the finish line of the London Marathon – and they will continue to be our inspiration.

Aside from the physical milestone of completing this challenge and fundraising, why else did you do this challenge?

We want to raise awareness of the importance of being active and its connection to breast cancer. We believe we can inspire many women to be more active and support each other along the way.

Donna Fraser OBE, the 400m runner and four-times Olympian, is an ambassador for Breast Cancer Now and has herself had breast cancer. Apart from Donna, has breast cancer affected anyone else on your team, either directly or indirectly?

So many women at Her Spirit have been affected and I [Holly] lost a friend to breast cancer a few years ago and saw first-hand the impact it had on her family and friends. Since then I have met numerous women in the Her Spirit community who have been touched by breast cancer. It’s such a prevalent disease for women and some men, and that’s why we all need to play our part in tackling it.

Mel, my co-founder, and I are passionate about supporting women to achieve goals they never thought possible. Breast Cancer Now is on a mission to ensure that by 2050, everyone diagnosed with breast cancer lives and is supported to live well. This challenge has been about bringing us all together to raise awareness and vital funds to help make this happen.

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