Making Memories… Giving Hope

Hannah to take on extreme triathlon for CHICKS

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"Every time I get outside training, I have an adventure," says Hannah Saitch. "Whether it be for half an hour, all day or longer, this keeps me happy and soon wipes away any stress I may have. It has struck me training for this race how lucky I am to have these opportunities, which is why I wanted to support CHICKS to provide outdoor experiences and respite breaks for young people in the UK who really need it."

Hannah has embarked upon an adventure of epic proportions to help enable more vulnerable young people to attend a CHICKS break by taking on the Patagonman XTRI, an extreme triathlon in Patagonia, South America, on Sunday, 1 December.

First held in 2018, the Patagonman XTRI includes a 3.8 km (2.4 miles) swim from the Aysén Fjord towards Puerto Chacabuco, followed by a 180 km (111.8 miles) cycle to Cerro Castillo, and finally a 42.2 km (26.2 miles) run along the Ibánez River to General Carrera Lake. The inaugural outing welcomed over 200 participants.

We spoke to Hannah about the huge challenge:

How did you hear about CHICKS and what made you want to fundraise for us?

I found CHICKS online and I think what you do is brilliant. Training allows me to get out into the wilderness and have adventures, which is exciting and helps me to feel positive and enjoy life. I think everyone should have a taste of this in their own lives, so I try and encourage people I know to do things that they're excited about.

I know I’m lucky to have found this through doing outdoor activities and sports as a child, so I think all children should get this chance. As well as hoping CHICKS breaks spark something for later in life, the immediate respite and memories are so valuable. I have also spent a lot of time on Dartmoor and think it’s the best place for an escape!

I’ve done six triathlons this length before, so it’s usually hard to ask for sponsorship as people think I find them easy... this is not true though! It dawned on me how hard the Patagonman will be as I started cold water swimming to acclimatise for the first leg of the race, so I thought I’d try and raise some money.

Hannah after she arrived in Patagonia

What made you decide to take on this event and how is training going?

Training-wise, I’ve been doing 15-20 hours per week since around June. This involves a long run and long ride (six hours a week) and other sessions fitted in, including lung-busting stationary bike sessions. Preparation has been mixed – an ankle injury meant eight weeks off running, and finding balance with other areas of life has been hard, but hopefully I’ve done enough.

My husband Matt is doing the Patagonman too and we’ve had fun preparing. We have run the Welsh Three Peaks in a day, cycled coast to coast in North England and swam the River Avon in our own Bantham Swoosh, as well as getting out on the bikes and running in the hills of South Wales.

How are you feeling about your upcoming challenge?

I have done all I can and hope it’s enough. I feel lucky to have this chance, and even luckier to be able to race with my husband Matt!

The water is cold, which is going to be hard for me. I have kept swimming in the cold, including 5 degree lakes with snow and non-wetsuit swims in the sea, however I’m a little worried about it as I usually turn into a shivering wreck requiring multiple cups of tea to warm up, and don’t head out on the bike in this state!

Contribute to Hannah's JustGiving campaign to help her reach her £1,000 target, and look out on the CHICKS website and social media for a report next week!

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