Suffolk adventurer sets off on ‘world’s toughest adventure race’

Lucy's solo trek on the GR20 trail acorss Corsica in September 2014

Lucy's solo trek on the GR20 trail acorss Corsica in September 2014 - Credit: Archant

A former Suffolk schoolgirl turned adventurer has set off on what could be her biggest challenge to date – a 700 km pursuit across land and water, considered the world’s toughest race.

The whole team: (left to right) Marty Adams, Tim Taylor, Lucy Shepherd and Tom Middleton

The whole team: (left to right) Marty Adams, Tim Taylor, Lucy Shepherd and Tom Middleton - Credit: Archant

Lucy Shepherd is captaining one of only two all-British teams in this year’s Patagonian Expedition Race – a test of endurance across one of earth’s most isolated regions.

No stranger to adventure, the 23-year-old, who grew up in Henham, near Southwold, spent a month living among indigenous people in the rainforest, led an alpine trek from France to Switzerland, and recreated the 1943 Heroes of Telemark operation with five military men, including an ex-SAS captain.

The former Thomas Mill High School pupil, who is a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, also became the first known female to cross Norway’s Finnmarksvidda plateau from north to south in Arctic winter, carrying a toboggan known as a ‘pulk’.

Lucy and her three teammates are today due to set off on the first leg of the 10-day race across previously unexplored territory, which aims to promote reforestation, environmental awareness and tourism in Chilean Patagonia.

Lucy Shepherd and Tom Midddleton on a kayak training weekend

Lucy Shepherd and Tom Midddleton on a kayak training weekend - Credit: Archant


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Lucy, who has also worked in film and television production since graduating from the University of York, said: “The race is over 700km and consists of trekking, climbing, sea kayaking and mountain biking. Teams must navigate themselves, and the time limit is a maximum of 10 days.

“I am the youngest captain to compete, and our team is seen as the underdog team because none of us have ever competed in an adventure race before.”

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Although her team are first-timers, Lucy is confident she will benefit from her previous “pain and suffering on hardcore expeditions”.

She was trained for the race by former Olympian Greg Whyte, who has coached several celebrities for charity challenges, including David Walliams, Davina McCall, Eddie Izzard and John Bishop, as well as Jo Brand and Greg James, for their recent Sport Relief challenges.

Lucy on the summit of a 6000m peak in Bolivia

Lucy on the summit of a 6000m peak in Bolivia - Credit: Archant

“Greg took me on board because he found my story and goal interesting,” she said.

“It was an honour to have him with me for the build up to the race.”

Known as Team TBC (Totally. Bloody. Capable.), the foursome are sponsored by Beacon Bikes and include Royal Marine reserve Tim Taylor, ski instructor and ex-Marine Martyn Adams, and design engineer Thomas Middleton, who runs ‘ultramarathons’ in his spare time and has completed expeditions world-wide.

Team TBC will be supporting one small charity, Children of Vietnam – a humanitarian organisation which helps poor and homeless children of Da Nang.

Lucy's solo trek on the GR20 trail acorss Corsica in September 2014

Lucy's solo trek on the GR20 trail acorss Corsica in September 2014 - Credit: Archant

You can follow Team TBC’s progress at facebook.com/teamtbc. Lucy’s own blog, lucyshepherd.net, tells of the highs and lows of being an adventurer.

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