“So from tomorrow you’re going to be completely knackered and hot and sore for the week you’re cycling. Then when you arrive you’ll get p****d for a few days and as well as being knackered and sore you’ll be hanging. Then you’ll fly home and be jet lagged, sore and hungover. Then you’ll be depressed for a bit because it’s all over. So the way you’re feeling right now is probably the best you’re going to feel for the next six months or so. GOOD LUCK AND ENJOY!”.
With these wonderfully frank words of encouragement fresh in their minds, Antonia’s Friends set out on their quest to Race Across America in under 8 days. Over the following week, the team, stewarded by Leadership Challenges, cycled non-stop from the Californian west coast, through 12 states, to the east coast of Maryland, to cover 3,000 mile race distance.
The route crews provided vital roadside support, guiding the team along the race route, navigating the numerous route changes, supplying endless energy-boosting meals and team spirit to keep the two 4-man relay pods moving towards the race end. Within the first 24 hours, personal speed records had been smashed as Antonia’s Friends kept the wheels turning on their epic challenge.
RAAM 2017 experienced some of the most inclement weather conditions in recent race history with flash flooding, strong headwinds and massive golf ball-sized hailstones, causing severe disruption to progress, not to mention catastrophic damage to kit, equipment and vehicles. As the riders took cover, the road crew found themselves racing to exchange hire vehicles too damage to continue.
The weather hadn’t quite settled as flash floods caused yet further route changes in the final 24 hours of racing but somewhat against the odds, and with one final push, Antonia’s Friends rolled across the finish line at Annapolis 7 days, 11 hours after the start, having completed 3,143.8 miles, averaging 355.2 miles per day.
All for a good cause, Antonia’s Friends endured sleep deprivation, relentless battering from the elements and pain for one very simple reason – to raise as much money as they could for Asthma UK. Every 10 seconds someone is having a potentially life-threatening asthma attack in the UK. Every day, the lives of three families are devastated by the death of a loved one to an asthma attack, and tragically two thirds of these deaths are preventable. Antonia Thomas was a bright, funny, beautiful, energetic young girl who had been diagnosed with mild asthma, yet died from an attack in under 10 minutes. During RAAM17, Antonia’s Friends has raised £14,934.79, just short of their £16,500 target. You can still support this life-changing challenge and charity here.
We would like to thank our sponsor and supporters who have come on our RAAM2017 journey with us. Chippenham-based Vectura, industry leaders in inhaled drug delivery technology, who enabled two of its personnel to join Antonia’s Friends as navigators, Aoife O’Connor and Anita Milei. Also MyProtein, Budweiser Budvar and Redrow.