A sporty forty-year-old from Exmouth has celebrated her big birthday with 12 months of charity challenges for the Devon Freewheelers.
Tanya Robinson, of Bradham Lane, in Withycombe Raleigh, this week ends a year of muddy run fun, climbs and cycling, with a final challenge – a 73-mile, 24-hour, walk from Baggy Point, in Croyde, to Devon Freewheelers headquarters in Honiton.
Mum-of-one Tanya, who marked her 40th birthday with a year of challenges, was inspired to raise funds for the charity by her husband Jim, a Devon Freewheelers Blood Bike volunteer. She made up many of her trials after the coronavirus pandemic cancelled a host of planned events.
Beauty therapist Tanya said: “I thought ‘I can’t drive an ambulance or a motorbike, but I can do this’.
“I think the Devon Freewheelers are amazing. They just step in wherever they can. They are incredible.”
She added: “It’s our very last challenge this week and I feel really sad. We never want it to end. It’s been great, raising the money and hitting the target and then getting to the next target.
“We are feeling really nervous about our last challenge – there are so many things that could stop us from finishing, but we are adamant we will crawl across that finish line.”
Daniel Roe-Lavery, Devon Freewheelers CEO and founder, said: “I am in awe of what Tanya has done. It’s just amazing and we are hugely appreciative of the support.
“It’s been an extremely difficult fundraising year for us because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We think it’s fantastic of Tanya to do this for us when we are all trying to cope with this new way of life – and she has stepped away from her life for the Freewheelers.”
Tanya, who moved to Exmouth from Somerset, began her year of challenges in January 2020, tackling the seven-mile Dirty Devil Stampede – a swim, ride, run triathlon.
Motivating Tanya along the way over the last 12 months has been her best friend Annaka Lloyd, from North Devon.
Together the pair have run, cycled and climbed more than 200 miles, raising almost £2,000 for the Devon Freewheelers through a JustGiving page.
By mid-February they had successfully ticked the Woodbury half marathon off the challenge list, quickly followed by the Totally Muddy trail run in March.
When the UK coronavirus pandemic lockdown hit, cancelling planned events, Tanya dreamed up her own extreme exercise challenges – some near her Exmouth home – to continue fundraising for the charity.
She took part in the virtual London Marathon when the live event was cancelled due to the pandemic, ran up Snowdon, completed trail runs, a 30-mile duathlon, a half marathon and more – dreaming up new challenges, keen to push herself harder as the year progressed.
Tanya said: “I have been doing a challenge a month. I had organised challenges to do but because of Covid I managed to get three in, from January until March.
“Then everything was cancelled so I thought I would make stuff up and set myself a different challenge each month.
“Each challenge holds something special. I don’t know if I can honestly pick one as my favourite. They have all been amazing in in their own way.
“We walked up Scafell Pike and the weather was horrific. It was grey and you couldn’t see very far. It was hard work. At the time I was thinking ‘this is horrible’ but we did it.
“The last challenge we did was a 14-mile run, 14-mile cycle and 14-mile run. It was so hard, I hated it, but I loved it because I really pushed myself.”
For the final challenge Tanya and Annaka decided to walk from Croyde to Honiton – setting off on December 15 – as a nod to the work the charity does in North Devon.
The pair welcome company if anyone is keen to join them for part of the walk, or to cheer them on.
And the friends plan to carry on fundraising for the charity in 2021 – with their sights already set on the London Marathon – when their planned events cancelled by the coronavirus are held next year.