Annie's marathon challenge - on Everest
INTREPID Riverside Runner Annie Furbank has joined an elite group of world runners by completing the world s highest marathon – starting at Everest base camp. More people have been to the top of the world s highest peak than have completed the Everest Mar
INTREPID Riverside Runner Annie Furbank has joined an elite group of world runners by completing the world's highest marathon - starting at Everest base camp.
More people have been to the top of the world's highest peak than have completed the Everest Marathon, a gruelling race starting at 5200m and taking in nearly 1100m of ascents in sub-zero temperatures.
Annie, 61, a veteran of nine marathons who last year broke the women's over-60 British record at the distance, completed the course in 8hrs 47mins.
She ran to raise money for Cystic Fibrosis Research in memory of family friends Jodie and Lucinda Dunmore, two sisters from Bedfordshire who died from the disease, and has so far raised over �7,000 for the cause.
Annie, who owns the Anne Furbank fashion shop in Buckden, said: "It was the toughest challenge - physically and mentally - that I've ever undertaken.
"The extreme cold, the filthy living conditions and the altitude sickness all took their toll - I'm thrilled that I completed it, but I won't be doing it again!
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"What kept me going was the thought that I would soon be going back to normal conditions, and that I would then be able to breathe again normally. People with cystic fibrosis have that shortness of breath every day," said Annie.
"The air up there is so thin that you can't possibly run the whole way. It was my first mountain race, which is almost a different sport to the running I am used to, and technically very difficult.
"You have to pick your way across the terrain - at some points we were running over boulders, at others it was like running on the beach. It was unbelievably difficult."
Eighty-one athletes started in temperatures of -20C at 6.30am, and as the field spread out, part of the marathon challenge became finding the correct course through the mountains.
"You get split up very quickly, and the path is not distinct, so there is a very real fear that you might get lost," said Annie.
"We had to take full rucksacks with us with clothing and emergency gear, which were all weighed at the end to make sure we hadn't discarded anything at the end."
Before the race even started, Furbank and the other athletes had to trek to base camp at Gorak Shep, part of a three-week programme designed to help them acclimatise to the altitude.
Furbank added: "I am a competitive person and quite strong mentally, so I knew that if I got to the start of the race, I would complete it. There was no danger of me giving up.
"I ran with a partner for the last fifteen miles, and we kept each other going. The final six miles were awful because we could see the finish line but had to keep running."
INFORMATION: Annie's efforts have so far raised over �7,000 for the charity, a total which is expected to rise as more donations arrive.
Over 2,700 people have climbed Everest, but fewer than 1,000 have finished the race.
To donate to Annie's run, visit www.justgiving.com/annefurbank1.