Norfolk couple’s tough charity challenge

It is going to be an Olympic year for couple Emily Barclay and Steve Hunter as they get ready to embark on a series of sporting challenges for charity. EMMA HARROWING reports.

If you haven't done much exercise, taking part in the Hethersett 60 – a 60-mile bike ride taking place in just a few weeks – will probably be a challenge.

Doing the Hethersett 60 followed by the Norwich 100 – a 100-mile bike ride – is a challenge-and-a- half. So doing the Hethersett 60, Norwich 100, Norwich Triathlon and the London to Paris cycling challenge seems insane.

In fact, four charity sporting challenges are not enough for Emily Barclay and her partner Steve Hunter. The couple from Broome plan to take part in six challenges this year.

'I took part in the London to Paris cycle challenge last year,' says 38-year-old Steve. 'I was completely blown away by how much of an achievement it felt once I had completed it that I want to do it again – this time with Emily.'

Unlike Steve, 35-year-old Emily hasn't taken part in a challenge of this magnitude before, in fact she declares herself as lazy and someone who 'prefers to eat cake'!

Says Emily: 'I've never done anything like this before, but when Steve told me about his adventures last year I felt inspired.

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'Steve has got the 'sporting challenge bug' and this kind of rubbed off on me. Once we started looking online we found smaller local challenges that we thought we could do to raise more money for charity and prepare ourselves for the London to Paris challenge.'

The couple have signed up to the Hethersett 60 on March 18, the Norwich 100 on May 27 and the Norwich Triathlon on July 1, before they will cycle the roads from London to Paris between July 11 and 15. And it doesn't stop there.

Says Emily: 'We had planned to go on a skiing holiday this year, but found that as money is a little tight we wouldn't be able to afford it, but then I found out about the Ski the World Challenge and knew that we just had to add this to our itinery too!'

The Ski the World Challenge involves skiing as one of a pair of skiers in Courmayeur, Italy. The task is to ski the height of the largest peak in each continent over three days, which is around 43,314 vertical metres.

The challenge takes place between March 30 and April 1 part way through Emily and Steve's sporting challenges. After signing up for five challenges the sixth seemed a doddle. 'The Cambridge to Norwich bike ride in September seems like it will be easy to complete after we have done the other challenges,' says Emily. 'Mentally, the distance will not seem so far, so we thought that we might as well sign up and raise more money for charity.'

Training involves heading to the gym, with Emily also taking fitness classes, in a bid to improve their fitness levels before their challenges start next month.

Says Steve: 'Once the mornings and evenings are lighter we will start to go out on our bikes to train for the challenges to make it more like the real thing.'

Adds Emily: 'There is only so much training we can do though. There are a lot of hills in France and there are no hills in Norfolk so it will be difficult to prepare for the uphill challenges. With the skiing challenge we have no idea what to expect, how far we will need to ski or what the conditions will be like, so this will be a challenge in itself!'

At least for the London to Paris cycle challenge the couple have more of an idea of what is in store, thanks to Steve's experience last year. Says Steve: 'It is physically and emotionally tough to complete the course and we will be cycling between around 80 and 85 miles a day. Doing the challenge together will make it a bit easier as we can support each other. I remember last year when the chain on my bike broke, it rained, I was tired and hungry and I wasn't making much progress. I didn't think I could go on, but after a phone call to Emily and some food I felt a lot better. The key is to try and keep positive, but I'm not ruling out the odd disagreement!' Adds Emily: 'The best thing about the challenges, especially the London to Paris one is that you can burn up to 10,000 calories a day so I can eat what I like. So long as there is cake or the promise of cake I'll do just fine!'

Emily and Steve are raising money for Action Medical Research and for the skiing challenge Make a Wish Foundation. They are also organising a fund-raising auction with auctioneer James Darwood at The Forum on February 22. Prizes that have been donated for auction include a week in the Pyrenees, a bespoke necklace, a handbag from Vanilla, a wine tasting experience, spa day and more.

For more information on the charity auction or to sponsor Emily and Steve email or visit for the London to Paris challenge and for the ski challenge.

Emily and Steve will be posting pictures as they do each challenge on i-witness24. To keep up to date with their progress sign up to

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