Follow the unbroken blue line on his Strava which only got thicker as it tracked him several times round this lake in North Wales and you’ll get a sense of how Lee Evans swam his way into completely unknown territory.
Taking on a fundraising challenge for the ME Association – to see how far he could swim in 12 hours round a big freshwater lake at Park in The Past near Mold – Lee said distance swimming was just not his forte.
“I’ve never attempted anything like this before”, said the 40-year-old personal fitness coach, who will be opening his own gym called Endur Performance on the Bromford Industrial Estate in Mold in the New Year.
“I swam 16.13 kilometres. Later, when I was talking to someone who knows about these things, I was told that is swimming 10k is considered a marathon, while anything over 15k is called an ultra-marathon.
“I was amazed! I had no idea up until that point that I could swim that far.”
Lee overcame a string of mental challenges as the Strava blue line spiked out at several points whenever Lee hauled himself to shore to take on refreshment and then neatly tied itself up at the bottom with a bow.
“The first six hours were fine then suddenly things changed and I had to started to battle to keep up the motivation. As the hours went by, it was getting harder and harder to keep going. By ten or 11 hours in, after the sun went down, I was really struggling to keep going and was getting shivery.”
And it took Lee several days to feel well again after completing his epic swim on 26th September. “I felt exhausted and have only just begun enjoying my running once again”, said Lee, when we managed to catch up with him.
Lee went down with acute ME 20 years ago, while working at a mountain bike trail centre and enjoying every moment of life. He spent the best part of the next two or three years in bed or on the sofa until his health started to improve. He said it was only until his got his ME diagnosis from a specialist physio at the age of 25 that he could begin to work out what to do to make himself better.
He found his answers in a nutrition and muscle training regime which the ME Association couldn’t recommend as it would clearly be inappropriate for most people with M.E. But it worked for him as it got himself into the shape he wanted to be.
On the day of the big swim, he was supported on shore and in a kayak by Chris Wallace and Chris Derycke, two other fitness coaches with whom he hopes to be working in his new business venture. And Park in The Past allowed him free use of the lake on a day when their leisure park was closed to the public.
If you’ve been inspired by Lee’s example and would like to contribute towards his MEA fundraiser, please visit: https://www.justgiving.com/page/leeevans12hourswim
For people with ME/CFS who are thinking about taking on a physical fundraising challenge, or if you are organising an event that might involve people with ME/CFS, please read this notice from Neil Riley, Chairman of the ME Association.