A COVENTRY mum took part in an endurance challenge to raise funds for vulnerable children living in poverty.
Debbie Wattis, 46, put her fitness to the test when she took on a half marathon in Rwanda, East Africa on Thursday, May 18.
The marathon, ‘Muskathlon’ – hosted by 4th Musketeer and Compassion UK – is an overseas adventure challenge which works in partnership with local churches and children in developing countries.
Debbie described how her personal journey begun when she upped her fitness to loose weight.
She said: “I was determined to improve my fitness levels, confidence and overall health – I lost 75lbs and was proud of my achievement, but I still had a way to go before reaching my goal to lose 120lbs.
“I wanted a new challenge and a new focus to keep me going and then I heard about the Muskathlon.
“Taking on a challenge for a cause that I am passionate about completely shifted my focus.”
Participants of the Muskathlon choose from a half, full or ultra-marathon, 120km cycle or 60km walk and face the gruelling test of competing in extreme weather conditions on challenging terrain.
The week long adventure saw race-goers from around the world physically pushed to their limits.
Mum, Debbie, decided to keep a journal called ‘My Life in Pictures’ about the challenges she faced in the run up to the adventure.
She said: “I’m much more of a visual person, so I decided to capture how I was feeling through illustrations.
“My drawings tell the story of my personal experiences of dieting, exercise and weight loss in visual form. They speak straight from my heart and I never go anywhere without my sketchbook.”
During the trip, competitors had the opportunity to immerse themselves in local culture, engage with children from a Compassion project and see the difference their fundraising will make.
The funds raised go towards a Child Survival Project in Rwanda, which provides vulnerable mothers with mentoring, child birth assistance and pre- and post-natal check-ups and immunisations.
Through the fundraising Debbie has seen two children sponsored by friends and family and has raised over £4,000.
Debbie and her youngest son Jake sponsored a little boy in Rwanda called Izabayo whom she met during her trip.
She described it as ‘a truly special moment that I will never forget’.
On returning from the trip, the 46-year-old said: “My time in Rwanda has been amazing and totally exceeded my expectations.
“In the lead up to my trip, I was feeling apprehensive, I knew it would be my biggest challenge yet but it turned out to be one the best and most rewarding things I have ever done.”
“The thing that kept me going were the kids running beside us, spurring us on with cheering and reaching out to hold our hands as we run.”
She added crossing the finish line was the most brilliant feeling and was a result of a lot of hard work and pain – but the feeling of achievement made it all worth it.
To read about Debbie’s experiences or see her illustrations visit www.debbiewattis.wordpress.com/