Six weeks ago a small blonde children's tv presenter set off to kayak over 2000 miles down the Amazon.Before the challenge,set up to raise money for Sports Relief, Helen Skelton, Blue Peter presenter, had never kayaked. Six weeks later she has broken the record for the longest distance paddled in 24 hours by a woman ( 75 miles ) and become the only woman ever to kayak this distance down the Amazon.
At first glance she would seem like any other fluffy young presenter, but underneath her soft exterior lies a will of iron and a determination to succeed that has astounded those who thought the challenge would prove impossible. Before she started she asked James Cracknell (double Olympic gold medallist rower and all round adventurer, explorer and extreme sports whizz ) for advice. He simply told her the feat would prove impossible. He was wrong.
She has gone through 150 ft of tape to protect her hands and has suffered seasickness, insect bites, heat exhaustion, but she has kept going - determined to finish no matter what.She has paddled 60 miles a day, 6 days a week, for 6 weeks. Some weeks ago I watched an interview with her and did not quite take in the magnitude of her task. I dismissed the fluffy Northerner, thinking 'Oh, that's nice...' thinking she was kayaking for a few days...I did not realise, until today, quite how extraordinary she is.
She may be a tv presenter, but she has done this despite all advice to the contrary and she has done it through sheer bloody minded strength and determination. She has raised money for Sport Relief and is far from the stereotypical 'fluffy blonde'.As she herself said at the end of her trip 'Never judge a book by its cover... just because I can make things out of sticky back plastic doesn't mean I can't break records'
Ain't that the truth... Well done Helen - you really are something special.