Arch to Arc makes Ironman look like a warm up. Jo Rodda was the second only woman to attempt the non-stop triathlon from London to Paris via the sea.
The epic challenge begins at Marble Arch in London, and finishes at the Arc de Triomphe. In short, London to Paris – via the English Channel…
A 300 mile continuous triathlon, the Enduroman Arch to Arc challenge begins with an 87 mile run from London to Dover, before requiring a Channel crossing, which even at it’s very shortest is 21 miles of swimming. The event then finishes with a 180 mile bike ride on the other side, into Paris.
Jo Rodda, a Doctor from London, was the second woman to attempt the Arch to Arc, and currently holds the world record with an astonishing time of 78 hours and 39 minutes. To date, just five women have completed the event.
When Jo’s close friend Simon was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, she wanted to take on a challenge that would raise big money for MS Trust. ‘I wanted to believe that [the diagnosis] was some kind of mistake,’ Jo said. ‘Watching Simon cope with each blow that MS dealt him was a lesson in humility. It taught me a lot about getting on with life, and about living with a condition and not being defined by it.’
Training for Arch to Arc requires serious dedication, but Jo’s determination to raise money for MS kept her going throughout the relentless 100 mile bike rides. ‘There were times when I’d question why I was doing such a ridiculous challenge! But I’d remember how hard it was for Simon to cope with coming to terms with MS,’ said Jo. ‘How tough it’s been over the years for him to go from walking independently to relying on sticks, and then having to use a wheelchair. I took on the challenge to support the MS Trust because I know just how much they’ve helped him,’ Jo said.
The Arch to Arc
Jo left London on 27th September 2014 with 87 miles of non-stop running ahead of her. Not only did she complete the ultra run with a smile on her face, but she smashed the female record, arriving at the coast in Dover in 19 hours 52 minutes. Upon arrival, Jo had one thing on her mind, and that was bed. She had a few hours to catch her breath before an early morning departure to France across the water. ‘I’m just hoping I can recover in time,’ she said.
Departing Shakespeare Beach in Dover the following morning, sea conditions were perfect. But Jo knew that there would still be sea creatures to contend with. ‘In training I’d overcome a fear of jellyfish,’ said Jo. ‘I felt a lot stronger for it.’ Jo trained for her Channel crossing in Weymouth, where she’d swum with Barrel Jellyfish, which can measure up to 3 feet in length! ‘I planned to avoid them, and if not – try not to be scared of them!’ Jo said.
On her way to French shores, however, Jo came face to face with the tentacled sea creatures. ‘I got stung by jellyfish on my face whilst swimming in the dark, but had no choice but the carry on,’ said Jo. ‘That was my lowest point.’
Despite challenges, Jo completed the crossing in an incredible 15 hours 40 minutes. She arrived safely, yet utterly shattered, in the darkness at 1am. ‘I was wrecked but I still had it in me to cycle 180 miles. Nothing seemed quite real,’ said Jo. ‘It was probably the exhaustion.’
Standing in Calais, Jo was ready to take on the final third of her event. ‘All the cheers and support kept me going,’ Jo said. ‘The thought of seeing Simon in Paris at the other end was something I dreamed of for a long time.’
Jo’s final arrival in Paris was an emotional moment for both Jo and her friend Simon. Upon her arrival, the pair walked to the the Arc de Triomphe together. ‘It had long been a dream of both of ours to walk the last 100 yards together. Because Simon is in a wheelchair, it was as tough for him to train for it as it was for me,’ Jo said.
Jo Rodda became the third overall person in 14 years to complete the event, and a new World Record holder as the fastest ever woman in 78 hours, breaking a previous record of 92 hours. ‘I thought I’d feel wrecked at the end,’ Jo said. ‘But I felt pretty good.’
Donations are now nearing £30,000 – you can still donate to Jo and Simon’s cause via Just Giving.
Considering Arch to Arc?
There are pre-requisites to ensure that you’re physically capable of what is a high risk event. There have been several fatalities of people attempting to swim the Channel. People must prove that they can swim for 6 hours or more in temperatures of 16 degrees or less. To find out more about Arch to Arc visit the Enduroman website.