Leigh McLean (2nd from right), who works for a construction company, has been selected to take on the Mother Of All Challenges for Sport Relief 2018. Leigh will be joined by The One Show’s, Alex Jones, and three inspiring mums from around the country as together they travel across the UK for a relentless schedule of swimming, hiking, cycling, caving and running.
The Mother of All Challenges for Sport Relief, will see the team push themselves to the limit as they face a series of five gruelling challenges across six days - including swimming in Loch Ness, cycling through the Lake District and coastal running in Wales.
The challenge will raise money to help vulnerable people in the UK and across the world to live happier, healthier and safer lives as well as raise awareness of maternal health issues. It is one of the causes funded by Sport Relief money and something close to the group’s hearts as each of the four mums have experienced their own maternal health issues.
Leigh lives in Bearsden with her husband Colin, and her three children.
When Leigh met her husband, she already had son Ross from a previous relationship, and they hoped to try for another child. After struggling to get pregnant, Leigh and Colin decided to use IVF treatment.
Leigh discovered that it was quite a taboo subject that wasn’t often discussed, and had trouble finding someone who she could talk to about IVF. Following this, Leigh openly talks about her experiences of, going through two cycles of IVF.
The first time was devastating for Leigh and her partner as she unfortunately miscarried. The second time was a success to full-term, and Leigh gave birth to twins, a girl and a boy.
Leigh describes herself as a ‘glass half full’ person, as she always tries to see the positives in any situation. She first got into fitness in her late teens, where she would go to the gym and loved exercise classes, and now she goes to the gym constantly.
She is taking part in the Mother Of All Challenges for multiple reasons, she wants to challenge herself mentally and physically, and to prove to her kids that they can do whatever they put their mind to.
Helping the mums on their way will be former Olympian, world-renowned sports scientist and physical activity expert Professor Greg Whyte OBE.
• Starting at Loch Ness on Sunday 11th March – Mother’s Day – the team will brave the freezing cold as they swim a section of Scotland’s most famous loch. With the risk of hypothermia always in mind, the mums will be doing a relay swim, testing their bodies to the limit as they plunge into the treacherous lake with average temperatures of five degrees Celsius in March.
• Day two on 12th March will see the team lace up their hiking boots as they try to conquer Helvellyn via Swirral Edge in the Lake District. This narrow ridge is not for the faint hearted. The mums will be dealing with the terror of standing on a narrow walkway with valleys falling away to either side. The gruelling mix of climbing and walking includes a daunting ascent of 870m and 800m descent.
• The challenge shows no signs of slowing the following day, as Alex, Amal, Debbie, Jodi and Leigh will test their endurance; cycling up three of the Lake District’s toughest passes. This will include climbing up the Kirkstone Pass, following the edge of Windermere’s shore and up the very steep Hornister Pass and Newslands Pass.
• Our mums will next travel to Alex’s home country of Wales, the setting for the next leg of the challenge on 15th March. Heading deep underground, they’ll crawl their way through tight passages and have to navigate a maze of dark caverns to make it out of Porth Yr Ogof cave in the Brecon Beacons. In normal weather conditions a dry rocky river bed leads up to the main entrance to the cave, but following rain this may quickly become a raging torrent as the Afon Mellte (the Lightning River) lives up to its name. A challenge not for the claustrophobic!
• After their long and taxing week there is no let up on the final day of the challenge. Friday 16th March will culminate in, quite literally, a marathon finish. Our fearless mums will tackle a relay coastal run across the hilly Welsh coast, taking in clifftop views, secluded coves and wild landscapes. The test of endurance will finally end with a triumphant crossing over the finish line in Swansea.
Leigh said:“I think I’ve gone through every emotion possible. I started at the ‘totally bricking it’ stage and have now settled down to ‘quietly apprehensive but excited’. Being part of a team of mums and knowing that we will raising money for Sport Relief to support incredible causes makes a massive difference. I’m not sure I would be able to do this on my own, having the girls and Alex with me means we can support each other.”
Alex Jones said: “Leigh’s been saying she’s always watched the Sport Relief challenges and now she can’t believe she’s doing one herself! It’s been great to talk to her about how she wants this challenge to help mums across the county talk more about their maternal health and create one big support group.”
The mums taking part are:
• Amal Hassan, 31, from Wimbledon. Amal is a trained doctor specializing in Sports Medicine.
• Debbie Williams, 50, from Bristol. Debbie is a support worker for adults with learning difficulties.
• Jodi Dowse, 28, from Bristol. Jodi works at BlueBell, a charity providing emotional wellbeing services to families during pregnancy and after birth.
• Leigh McLean, 44, from Glasgow. Leigh works for a construction company.
Alex, Amal, Debbie, Jodi and Leigh need the public’s support to keep them going on The Mother of All Challenges. Donate at www.sportrelief.com/mums
Inspired by this challenge? Whatever moves you, do it for Sport Relief. Head to sportrelief.com to find out how to get active and make a difference, including downloading the free app and joining the national Billion Steps Challenge.
Follow Alex and the mums on their journey by tuning in to The One Show each night on BBC One during the week of the challenge.
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