A mum from Glasgow could spend more than 80 days alone on the Atlantic Ocean from Wednesday, when she sets off on “the world’s toughest row”.
Leanne Maiden, from Bearsden, is taking on the challenge, travelling from La Gomera in the Canaries to Antigua in the Caribbean to raise money for The Polar Academy UK, The Women’s Fund for Scotland, and The Mabel Foundation.
The 42-year-old, who has two sons, seven-year-old Blair and his older brother Ruaridh, eight, originally planned to row as a pair but her partner pulled out just a few months ago, leaving Leanne to row the 3,000 miles by herself.
She said: “I don’t know whether it was lockdown – which I found to be particularly tough – or turning 40, but I’d never previously considered doing anything like this until now.
“It will be incredibly sad to leave my children and my husband, but very few kids can say their mum rowed the Atlantic Ocean. We’ll miss each other, but I hope it will inspire them to do ambitious, crazy things themselves.”
There are no stops during the race which is expected to last as long as 85 days.
During the row – which has been delayed by 24 hours due to 50-foot waves at La Gomera – she’ll face sleep deprivation, salt sores, physical extremes, and the psychological challenges of the open ocean.
Her voyage has been sponsored by Wolfcraig Distillers and director Jamie Lunn, who was in La Gomera last week helping her pack her boat, said: “We’ve been with her since the beginning. She’s a very special person; so incredibly resilient and inspiring. We can all learn a lot from her.
“A couple of our ambassadors have represented the British and Irish Lions, and Lauren (Gray), our head of marketing, is an Olympic medallist, and they are as much in awe of Leanne as I am.
“We’re proud to be part of Leanne’s journey especially given the charities she is raising funds for and will be cheering her on every painful mile of the way.”
When Leanne arrives in Antigua, more than 20 of her friends and family are expected to be there to welcome her.
Before her, only 34 solo females have attempted to row across the Atlantic Ocean, and she will be the first South African female to do so.
Leanne, who moved to Scotland 20 years ago, added: “Aside from the physical and mental challenge of rowing an ocean I will also be facing the challenge of social isolation.
“I have never lived alone and I’m not even sure I have ever spent more than 12 hours in my own company.
“I have an incredible family and amazing friends and the thought of spending up to 85 days with nothing but my own thoughts feels like it could be very uncomfortable indeed. But when I consider the inescapable discomfort that so many people around the world experience on a daily basis for their entire lives, my discomfort pales into insignificance.”
Before even setting off, Leanne has already raised more than £5,000 for her chosen charities.
She has trained extensively by banking hundreds of hours on the water and has even called on help from Lachlan, Jamie and Ewan MacLean, the brothers who set three records during the same race four years ago.
The World’s Toughest Row features teams from around the world who will gather in the village of San Sebastian in La Gomera, Canary Islands all with the same objective – to take on the unique experience of crossing an ocean in a rowing boat.
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