In For A Penny


Many people have asked me ‘why are you doing the whole race, why not just do one or two legs?

Roberts x 3, Mum's 70th, May 2004

Well, without wanting to get too deep… I’ve been brought up believing that if you’re going to do something you might as well do it properly.  And for me, ‘properly’ in this case means doing the whole race.  I’d feel that if I only did a leg I’d be ‘playing at it’ and having a bit of a holiday.  [NB.  Disclaimer: I realise that people who are or have done part of the race may read this and this is in no way meant to offend them.  It’s a personal value for me and going all the way is something that my personal circumstances allow me to do.]  I wouldn’t be committing to the whole ‘big adventure’ which I’ve always wanted to do and in some way I’d be cheating.  The ‘big adventure’ thing has stemmed from being part of the mountaineering club at university.  I loved being in the hills and climbing, being reliant on your own and your partner’s/team’s skills and being at the mercy of the weather.  I read almost every book on polar explorations and Everest, each time with awe and admiration for the adventurers involved.  There’s always been something about nature and the outdoors that has drawn me in, that, coupled with the physical and mental challenge has continued to be a big attraction.  In

University Mountaineering Club (You can just see my head in the middle of the front row)

every book, I was moved by the strength of the explorers both physically and mentally.  I’ve always had these people on a pedestal and I now finally have a chance to do something similar to them.  To experience the hardships, cold, heat, power of nature, sunrises and sets along with endless stars on clear nights and many moments when I’m sure I’ll doubt my safety but will be rewarded with amazing highs when we all come through.


On a practical level, once I’ve bought all my kit and done all the training I might as well make the most of it.  I also feel that if I only did a leg or two I’d be left wanting more.

My final reason for wanting to do the whole race is about learning.  I don’t believe that just doing one leg would enable me to make the most of the experience.  There’s so much I could learn on this race and I’d like to learn all of it.  Although, having said that, I think some learnings will be more enjoyable than others.  I can’t imagine that becoming skillful at unblocking the heads is something I’m going to relish.  The learnings I’m looking forward to much more are about weather systems, stars, wildlife, how to fix stuff (not the toilet!), obviously how to sail, learnings about people and from people, team dynamics and leadership, and, of course, learnings about myself.  I feel if I just did one leg I wouldn’t get a chance to do all this and I certainly wouldn’t be able to cement my learnings, practice or get any better.  One of the aspects of going the whole way is that I will have the opportunity to improve and to experience everything (note to self – remember these plus points when I’m cold, wet, tired and scared!).  I’m also looking forward to when new leggers join the boat, getting to know them and being able to help them get to know the boat and settle into the race.  I’d like to be able to give something back, right now, I’m doing a lot of taking; help, support, others’ patience and time in order to get me to a place where I can get on the boat with some idea of one end from the other.

So, in for a penny…

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1 Response to In For A Penny

  1. Liz Forder says:

    Hey Lesley, it sounds completely awesome! I think it is an amazing opportunity and one to be grasped entirely. My mom died in 2008 and I found myself running the London Marathon last year. Life is definitely for living to the full. Good luck, Lx

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