Blackpool cancer survivor battled through gale force winds to set four new world records on ultra triathlon
A super-fit woman from the Fylde Coast has become the fastest known person to swim and run the longest lakes and highest peaks in Wales, England and Scotland and cycle between them in under five days.
Andrea Mason completed her ultra-challenge in just four days, seven hours and 58 minutes - smashing her goal to do it in under five days.
And bad weather on day one didn’t stop her. Andrea said: “We had to delay the start as the weather was so bad it wasn’t safe to swim [across Lake Bala]. I knew it was going to be extremely tough, but the gale force winds and rain at the start made it even tougher. I had to work a lot harder on the first day, meaning I was already tired,”
Andrea, 40, started her adventure on Monday 25 July and finished on Ben Nevis in Scotland on Friday 29 July 2022.
She swam 65km, cycled 800km and ran 44km up three mountains whilst gaining 3400m of height.
Her journey also involved swimming across Lake Windermere and running up Scafell Pike and Ben Nevis, and cycling between locations.
But she started to flag when she reached Loch Awe in Scotland.
“I was extremely daunted - 41km is an extremely long way, but I knew I had to keep going, there was no way I could give up.”
Andrea said that she wanted to set the world records by doing the Sea to Summit Extreme challenge, as it would give her a bigger platform to raise awareness of the need to talk openly about periods and smear tests.
She added: “I kept putting one arm in front of the other, and one leg in front of the other until I reached the end, hoping that every stroke and stride was helping to raise awareness.”
Andrea had missed several smear tests before she was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2017.
She was also diagnosed with severe endometriosis, a debilitating condition that causes painful, heavy periods and severe lower back/abdominal pain.
Tissue similar to the womb lining starts to grow around the ovaries and fallopian tubes.
It can lead to infertility, fatigue and bowel and bladder problems.
She said: “One in three women already do not attend their smear test and one in 10 women currently have endometriosis. It’s as common as diabetes but relatively unknown.”
Andrea started setting herself endurance challenges to help her to manage chronic pain caused by her condition, and give her something to focus on after having a hysterectomy.
She is also tackling the bigger issue of the taboo surrounding menstrual and reproductive health, which means many conditions go undiagnosed.
“People still find it difficult to talk openly about women’s reproductive health matters.
“This should not be the case; we should talk about periods and related conditions such as endometriosis like we talk about a common cold.”
In 2020 Mason set up a charity, Lady Talk Matters, to improve period education.
“Despite improvements, the menstrual health education is substantially below par both globally and in many schools within the UK. We need future generations to grow up feeling confident talking about this.”