INSTILLED follows Andrea Mason as she embarks on an incredibly ambitious and extreme triathlon. In this film, we watch as she attempts to be the first person in the world to swim the English Channel - a casual 34km - then cycle 900km across France, and a finale of climbing to the summit of Mt Blanc. To add to this already-intense challenge, she wanted to complete it in a mere 5 days... we did say it was ambitious!
For £5 per household, you'll get 7 days' access to our online cinema where we'll be showing the film on-demand from Friday 18th December @ 6pm until the very end of Sunday 20th December. You'll also be supporting Andrea's charity, Lady Talk Matters. Sign up here and join us for an epic weekend!
We caught up with Andrea about this exhausting and brilliant endurance adventure, as well as Lady Talk Matters and the vital work that they do.
What made you want to take on such a huge endurance challenge?
Sea to Summit Extreme was born out of my desire to push my own personal boundaries and use it as a platform to raise awareness of Endometriosis and encourage women and girls to have their cervical smear tests.
I love pushing myself both physically and mentally. It is here I truly find out who I am and what I am capable of. My philosophy is ‘create your own epic’ — I believe in being the best you can be and not comparing yourself to others.
Last year, I decided to put this to the test when I set out about trying to swim across the English Channel, Cycle 900km across France and then climb Mt Blanc. Why did you choose this particular challenge?
I knew I wanted to do something big, something that nobody had done before. Whilst I was in the hospital recovering from major surgery, my husband and I started brainstorming ideas. It went something like this ‘
Me: "I’ve always wanted to swim the channel." Karl: "Yeah, but haven’t lots of people done that already?" Me: "We live in Chamonix but I have never climbed Mt Blanc." Karl: "Again, lots of people have done that." Then jokingly, Karl says: "I know! Why don’t you do it all in one go and cycle in-between?" He wasn’t serious, but I loved the idea! For weeks, I couldn’t get it out of my head. The sheer fact that I was questioning whether it would be humanly possible meant that it was an awesome idea!
It was a huge challenge, something nobody had ever done, and I felt that I could use it as a platform to promote awareness of Endometriosis and cervical cancer, the two conditions I had been personally impacted by.
This was an intensely gruelling task, both physically and mentally! How did you prepare?
Lots and lots of training! I basically lived on my bike and in the water for the months leading up to the challenge ;-)
I also had to make sure I was practicing eating and drinking the same nutrition as I would do during the challenge. It was fundamental that I got my nutrition right as I would be burning 1000s of calories a day, so I needed to make sure they were being replenished the most efficient way possible.
What was the biggest obstacle that you faced?
By far the biggest obstacle was the lack of sleep. I had carefully planned rest times, but in reality, I wasn’t able to switch off — and sleep became more and more difficult.
Any stand-out moments?
Ooh, there are lots! The top things that spring to mind are:
1. The incredible support I had out on the route
2. Being given hot chips in the middle of the night
3. Definitely having chicken nuggets, it’s always a highlight in these challenges for me! What was the first thing you did once you came to the end of your attempt?
What's happened since INSTILLED?
I have since completed another challenge: I swam 38km around Lac Annecy, rode the gruelling Trail Du Mt Blanc, and then ran the 170km Ultra Trail Du Mt Blanc. I also quit my job to start up my new charity, Lady Talk Matters.
What made you decide to start up Lady Talk Matters?
I am extremely passionate about raising awareness and educating people (both men and women) on female reproductive health issues. To this day, people still find it difficult to talk openly about women’s reproductive health matters — mostly because it relates to female sexual organs. This should not be the case, we should talk about periods and related conditions such as Endometriosis like we talk about a common cold.
I strongly believe that promoting awareness and educating people around the globe is the only way to remove the taboo. I founded Lady Talk Matters to help improve the lives of women and young girls. What's next?
The million-dollar question! I am working extremely hard to deliver significant benefits through the charity next year and I of course have another Sea To Summit Challenge planned for next year. I will be attempting to swim the 3 longest lakes in Wales, England and Scotland, run the 3 peaks and cycle the 800km in between - all in 5 days.
More about Lady Talk Matters
Education, awareness, inspiration, support. You can learn more about the charity on their website: https://ladytalkmatters.org