Published: 19/12/2011 08:00 - Updated: 19/12/2011 08:00

Himalayan challenge left tough competitor stricken

Rebecca Pattinson
Rebecca Pattinson

A ROSS-SHIRE woman who took on the challenge of her life when she attempted an ultra-marathon in the Himalayas was forced to pull out when an illness resulted in her being put on a drip in a makeshift hospital.

And Rebecca Pattinson's gutsy companion, her 71-year-old aunt, Jennifer Murray, also put in a great effort during Racing the Planet: Nepal 2011, but withdrew after stage two.

However, Rebecca - who was brought up in Wester Ross and works as a yacht broker in Monaco - has so far raised more than £9,000 for an African charity through her efforts and says it was a total privilege to take part in the "most amazing experience of her life".

"I was so touched by the amount of congratulations and compliments I received despite not crossing the finish line. One chap, Blair who came in fifth overall, insisted I have his finishers medal - what a champ," she said.

"Indeed I have never met so many selfless and compassionate people, everyone always looking out for each other and putting others first. I hope that if nothing else, I have learnt a lot on that front. I've never been much good at being a team member, but taking part in something like this really takes you to a different level and I loved the challenge from that point of view, as much as anything else."

The challenge Rebecca and her aunt Jennifer faced was to run the equivalent of six marathons in six days from November 20.

Jennifer, who is a record-breaker after being the first woman to circumnavigate the globe in a helicopter, was the oldest participant.

Spirits were high in the camp on the first day with the 230 participants itching to get going, and even though Rebecca found it hard going she came into camp number 155, and was later followed by her aunt.

By the second day a sickness bug had affected 50 per cent of the competitors and by the third day Rebecca's aunt, who she calls Jeffa, had to withdraw after sprinting to complete stage two in the allocated time.

"Jeffa put on her wings and started running with nine kilos on her back, up and down hills for several kilometres, and she made it through in time," said Rebecca.

"So unfair that they had such a strict cut off time, no one was really aware of it, and so disappointing because as a result of pushing herself so hard, Jeffa had a tough night and very sensibly decided to pull out after stage two."

Rebecca carried on, despite suffering from aching muscles and stomach cramps, but found stages three and four "incredibly tough".

The following day she set off with a "washing machine" in her stomach and after 10 hours of climbing in intense heat, she collapsed and was helped up to the top of a mountain by a Sherpa.

"They called a rescue jeep and then got me into the emergency medical tent. I think it was only then that I realised what a state I was in. I was so dehydrated that the drips wouldn't stay in my veins." Rebecca set herself the target to raise £10,000 for The Busoga Trust, a charity which has worked to provide water, sanitation and hygiene to the people of rural Uganda since 1982 and she has so far raised more than £9,300.

Rebecca's father is from Ross-shire and her family moved there when she was 14 to set up a salmon farm.

Despite having a yacht charter business in Monaco Rebecca has built her own house in Kishorn.

"It is where my heart lies and where I spend as much time as possible - I trained there on all the mountains, especially the Applecross and Torridon ranges," said Rebecca.

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