An inspirational young women with a rare terminal disease is preparing for an oar-some challenge to help others like her.
While most of us are sleeping, Carolyn Smith will be setting off from Brayford in Lincoln on a 32-mile journey to Boston - on a paddle board
I am very nervous and very excited. I do run the risk of a major rupture and dying but the risk is worth itCarolyn Smith
Carolyn, from Burgh-le-Marsh, suffers vascular ehlers danlos syndrome - and is at risk of her arteries and organs rupturing.
She will be tackling the challenge to raise awareness and funds for Annabelle’s Challenge - a charity offering support for patients with the condition.
“With only around 220 people in the UK with vascular eds, we are a very small pocket of people and we are rare,” said Carolyn. Vascular eds is life-threatening as our arteries and organs could rupture.
“There is no cure - we are a ticking time bombs.”
Carolyn will set off from Brayford in Lincoln at 4.30am on Saturday and follow a route along the River Witham to Bardney, then on to Tattershall, Langrick and Antons Gowt, finishing at the 50km sign just before Boston Rowing Club. She has been turning up in all weather over winter for training sessions with instructor Phil May, of Yellowbelly SUP School in Boston, who will be joining her on the challenge.
“Training has gone well we have been out in all kinds of weather - wind, hail, rain and sunshine. The worst training session was a few weeks ago the weather was bright sunshine blue skies but two miles into training the sky turned black the wind whipped up and we got battered by hailstones trying to get back to where we started.
“It has been fun, hard and sometimes emotional - but it’s been amazing.”
Her interest in paddle boarding happened while walking her dogs on the beaches near Skegness and litter picking. Readers may have seen Carolyn’s Ramblings of a Broken Hiker on social media, and it was another litter picker who inspired her to take up the sport.
“Last year I walked 1,000 miles and for most of that I collected litter. I followed a lady who collected litter on her SUP board and it inspired me to try stand up paddle boarding,” she said. “Then I came across Phil from the Yellowbelly SUP school in Boston and from the moment of my first ever lesson in July, I fell in love with being on the water. “I was hooked. I had lessons every week most weeks, then twice a week. Then we came up with the challenge and I ended up getting a raceboard.”
Already Carolyn has raised more than £1,200 of her £1,500 target on her JustGiving page - Carolyn’s 32 mile SUP challenge Lincoln to Boston.
She is hoping to finish within 16 hours and has come back from a nasty rupture to her leg two weeks ago to complete her training.
“I can’t wait to get started now,” she said. “I am very nervous and very excited. I do run the risk of a major rupture and dying but the risk is worth it.”