A challenge of a lifetime - Women's Running

A challenge of a lifetime

Author: Women's Running Magazine

Read Time:   |  March 21, 2016

Adrianne Hill

Twenty-six year-old Adrianne Hill from Northampton is no stranger to adversity. Diagnosed with rare soft tissue sarcoma at the age of nine, Adrianne was given six months to live and, extraordinarily, overcame it. At the age of 26 Adrianne found herself tackling illness – of a difference sort – once again, after finding herself diagnosed with depression. Such experiences – and her strength in overcoming them – inspired her to take on a challenge of a lifetime. On Friday 4 March, Adrianne will be travelling 18,000 miles around the world, running, stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) and cycling her way across eight continents to raise crucial funds for Cancer Research and Mind UK. Through the challenge, Adrianne hopes to inspire those who have suffered from illness – physical or mental – that anything is possible, while lifting stigmas around mental and physical disabilities.

After pioneering research gave Adrianne a chance at life, Adrianne acquired an appreciation for life that one can only imagine. “Being given six months to live at nine years old just does that to you, it makes you appreciate everything,” she says. Rare soft tissue sarcoma left Adrianne not only with the prospect of a severely shortened life, but also of a potential leg amputation to try and eliminate the cancer. However, after trying a new treatment, discovered just six months previous, Adrianne was the only one of 12 children undergoing the treatment to survive.

Adrianne knew that she wanted to do something for her young friends who were sadly taken by the disease, but it wasn’t until July last year that this came to fruition. After a series of stressful personal events and working events, while working in a highly-pressurised environment as a sports journalist, Adrianne found herself diagnosed with depression – a shock to her and also to her family and friends who knew her as a happy, motivated and fun-loving young lady.

“I had been sat on my sofa and done nothing for two weeks. I hadn’t cried, I hadn’t smiled, I hadn’t been happy, hadn’t been sad, I was just numb. And I’m a very outgoing person; every morning I open the windows and there is something I love – whether it’s the birds, or something that has made me laugh on TV, and I was sat there thinking, ‘How has this happened?’”

“I wrote a bucket list of things I wanted to do and I thought I’d not raised money for charity in a while, and that is something that was important to me. [At the hospital], we also used to talk about the things we wanted to do when we got through the cancer and, unfortunately, I was the one only one that did, so there were things on my list that I want to do for them as well. So I spent the next two weeks planning.

“I just realised that even with the craziest dreams, you can achieve them. I didn’t have a clue about logistics, proper training plans, but from now to then I’ve learned so much and got so much more to go.”

After six months juggling a full-time job with an intensive training schedule, Adrianne will set off on her voyage on Friday. With a bike, trailer and paddleboard in tow, Adrianne plans to cycle between 65 to 120 miles a day, running an average of 25 miles, and racking up an average of 10 miles a day on her standup paddleboard. Adrianne, who has no previous experience taking part in extreme endurance challenges and struggles to run more than 10K due to pain in her right leg as a result of the treatment, is keen to prove that anything is possible – no matter what you’ve been through.

Adrianne Hill

Photo: Reebok Fitness

“I’m just an average Joe trying to do this incredible thing,” she says. “My right leg hasn’t not got as much muscle, so my foot swells up and is painful and my insides have been burned by the chemo. I’ve got all these things wrong with me, yet I want to show that you can still go out and do it. There’s a lot of stigma attached to people that have been ill, and people that have had a mental health problem as well, and I want to break down those stigmas. I’m an ambitious professional and have had a career and just because you have had those things, doesn’t mean you can’t work or live your life.”

While six months of 4am get-ups has left Adrianne in good physical shape for the challenge, she knows it’s not going to be easy. “For me, even running a 10K is an achievement, because of my leg. I know there will be points where I am agony, but as long as I have the ice pack, the heat pack (and the alcohol), it will be fine!”

However, as with her approach to her training – and life in general – Adrianne has adopted a laissez faire attitude to the challenge she has signed herself up for, and is excited by the prospect of uncovering new challenges, seeing new things and meeting new people each day. “I’m very much the tortoise. I just love going out, seeing how far I can get, seeing what new things I can discover, and what new people I meet!

“I wrote a blog called, ‘The what if mentality?’ because I went through a period of four weeks where people were saying, ‘Please don’t go, what if this happens to you?’ So I said, ‘What happens if I meet this incredible person that changes my life?’ Something could easily go wrong on my morning commute to work, just as it could it in the big bad world.”

Adrianne Hill

Adrianne aims to carry all of her supplies in a trailer fitted to her bike, running where she can, but tells us she’ll “play it by ear”, depending on the landscape. “When I’m running I’ll have someone with me to carry my kit, so my boyfriend is coming for some points. Or at some points I might just run with the bike. There is a good chance, especially with the hills in France, that I’ll be running with it anyway! I’ve got GPS, phones, good old-fashioned maps and compasses; I did DofE as a kid too, so trying to remember all of that, but from trying to put my tent up, I can’t say it’s going to go smoothly!”

Adrianne urges people to get involved in the challenge, joining her in proving “just how powerful the mind and body can be.” She said: “I want to bring people together and for people to join me. If I can just inspire one person to achieve their dream, then I’ll be happy.”

If you’d like to donate and support Adrianne’s challenge, visit: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/showFundraiserProfilePage.action?userUrl=worldsupbikerun

You can follow Adrianne through her journey on Twitter at @Adrianne_Hill, searching the hashtag #OpenYourMind.

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