Brave Carolyn battles the elements and her own rare condition to complete inspirational paddle board challenge

The paddle board challenge
The paddle board challenge

Brave Carolyn Smith battled against the elements and her own rare terminal disease to complete an incredible charity challenge on Saturday.

She – along with her instructor and friend Phil May – became the first to complete the 32 miles along the Witham from Lincolnshire to Boston on stand up paddle (sup) boards.

The paddle board challenge on the Whitham

The paddle board challenge on the Whitham

Carolyn suffers from vascular ehlers danlos syndrome - and is at risk of her arteries and organs rupturing.

But she overcame an early setback when a vein in her knee ruptured because of the condition, and after a pain killing injection, she resumed the challenge, completing the route with Phil, of Yellowbelly SUP School in Boston in 13 and a half hours – well within the target margin she set herself.

Proud Carolyn, of Burgh-le-Marsh, posted on Facebook after she finished: “32 miles without dying. In your face vascular Eds. I won this fight and I bloody loved every second even when you tried to win nothing will never ever stop me; Vascular ehelers danlos syndrome you will never win.”
She has now raised more than £3,2000 for Annabelle’s Challenge - a charity offering support for the 220 or so patients with the condition in the UK.

“I can’t believe how much we have raised. I need to say a big thank you to Phil and all of my support team, and to everyone who cheered us on on the day.

The paddle board challenge on the Whitham

The paddle board challenge on the Whitham

“My emotions are everywhere at the moment. One minute I’m happy, the next I’m angry, its crazy,” she said.

Carolyn and Phil set off from the Brayford in Lincoln at 4.30am on Saturday and folow a route along the River Witham to Bardney, then on to Tattershall, Langrick and Antons Gowt, finishing at at the 50km sign just before Boston Rowing Club.

She said conditions on the day were okay, although they were taken by surprise by the strength of the wind.

Her interest in paddle boarding happened while walking her dogs on the beaches near Skegness and litter picking.

Phil and Carolyn after the challenge

Phil and Carolyn after the challenge

After her first ever lesson last July with Phil, she was hooked, and has had lessons every week.

Although she says she will now be resting for the rest of this year, Carolyn is already thinking about her next challenge.

She says she’d like to do this one again next year, but at some time in the future, she is keen to try and find a way to go coast-to-coast on paddle boards.

Carolyn said of completing the challenge this year: “I’m relieved to have done it – and I’m really, really proud.”

The paddle board challenge on the Whitham

The paddle board challenge on the Whitham

Donations can be made on Carolyn’s Just Giving page, Carolyn’s 32 mile SUP challenge Lincoln to Boston.

Annabelle's Challenge is raising awareness of Vascular Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (vascular EDS) to the general public and medical profession to help aid an early diagnosis and prevent misdiagnosis of vascular EDS and to support patients who are affected by the condition.

The paddle board challenge on the Whitham

The paddle board challenge on the Whitham

The paddle board challenge on the Whitham

The paddle board challenge on the Whitham

The paddle board challenge on the Whitham

The paddle board challenge on the Whitham

Carolyn and Phil complete the challenge

Carolyn and Phil complete the challenge

The paddle board challenge on the Whitham

The paddle board challenge on the Whitham

Carolyn and Phil

Carolyn and Phil