Leg 3, Day 40 – Izzy and Lizanne

Laura Penhaul By

Day 40 – Izzy and Lizanne

In my previous blogs I have mentioned how I wanted to use this time to explain how we came together as a team and how each of the girls have made this journey so amazing. Izzy and Lizanne I have written previous blogs about before they left the boat, so to avoid repetition and seeing as people think I have a ‘bromance’ with Lizanne, I would hate to be seen writing more about these two than anyone else, so I have brought them together in this blog.

Izzy and Lizanne both showed interest in the row at the same time that Meg and Nats joined in approximately March 2014. Izzy in fact had come along to our Inspirational Speakers Night the year before, just shortly after Ems had joined the team as she’d seen it on Emma’s Facebook. That night was a great success thanks to Ella for organising and for our key speakers Danny Crates, Martin Hewitt, David Cornthwaite and Emily Penn who all volunteered their time to speak of their amazing adventures followed by us, who were yet to have achieved anything. I’m sure I recall Izz having said since, that she thought the row was an amazing adventure but at that time never imagined she’d be applying to do it herself. Oh how time and things change!

On the day at Bisham Abbey where most applicants were met and were to go through interviews and assessments, neither Izz nor Lizanne were able to make it. We therefore set up Skype meetings during that day, so they were still involved and therefore had a schedule to do 1:1’s with Keith, Ems and I plus Fergus to get a chance to ask questions and hear more about life at sea in a rowing boat. It was however compulsory for them to come to see Doris, go out for a paddle and also make it to the Breacons weekend. For Izz bless her, this meant missing one of her best friends weddings. Having been away in France for her mum’s birthday during the Bisham weekend, Izz unfortunately had to make the decision of sacrificing her friends wedding or to miss out being considered for the row. The fact that she attended the Breacons weekend went a long way to show her commitment and dedication, so definitely played a role in a reason for selection. That being said, I think I can safely say that Izz has the busiest diary of anyone I know, so our 6 weeks notice was still last minute.com for poor Izz.

The Breacons for Izz was actually more of her comfort zone than the rest of ours, as climbing mountains or walking in the Yorkshire Dales is a regular weekend past time for Izz. So it was going to be the sleep deprivation, team management and leadership tasks that I was hoping would apply the test for her. However I recall Izz becoming the perfect Girl Scout image when she got handed the baton to lead the way and navigate across the Beacons, if only I’d taken a photo!

Without question though what drew us to selecting Izz, is that she thrives in the areas that I don’t. Her strengths are my weaknesses. Izz was exactly what was needed to give the project and the team an extra push to make it to the startline, which is exactly what she did. Someone to co-ordinate, organise and document everything that was in my head on to paper and pick up the missing links. She definitely applies her meticulous organising skills to all parts of her life and is the epitome of ‘work hard, play hard’, as she was even able to keep us inline when she was skiing down a mountain in Canada that Winter.

Leg1 9

The introduction with Lizanne was very different. I recall seeing a few comments from Lizanne on our Twitter feed after Chrissie Wellington had kindly posted that we were looking for team members. I think Lizanne may have even said something along the lines of ‘so gutted I live in South Africa as I would have loved to apply’. Of course not wanting to rule anyone out, I looked into Lizanne’s profile. Awesome picture of her doing some thing adventurous by the sea, pictures of completing a half ironman plus half marathon fell runs, plus she was an Osteopath that had trained with a colleague of mine. So I figured that if she was the right person, then we could make it work from SA even if the distance pre-row was not ideal for team cohesion and familiarity, we have Keith to work his magic for that! Regardless of this, Lizanne set about applying and then booking her flights to come over for a couple of weeks. She travelled down to meet Doris and within our first 24hrs of meeting she stayed aboard to get a feel for the close proximity. The next morning we headed out to row over to the Isle of Wight with Ems and I, so with 3 onboard we rowed for 2hrs and rotated every hour. After 10hrs we made it to Cowes and Lizanne certainly had got a good insight of life aboard Doris. When she joined us again for the Breacons, Lizanne’s bubbly personality shone through. She was a great team player, getting stuck in and being adaptable where needed. I remember when we were all dead on our feet at the end, it was the early hours of the morning and we thought we’d finished until the Fieri team gave us one more final task, to get all the equipment back up to the house which was 400m away, carried only by stretcher and we had a tight time limit. One minute Lizanne and I are half asleep on the floor, the next we’re sprinting on our blistered feet, carrying our backpacks as well as 20kg drums strapped to a stretcher. I don’t know where we got it from, but even back then we seemed to snap into action together.

It was during the Breacons that Lizanne had made us aware that she had just bought a new business back in SA, so realistically she felt she couldn’t commit to doing the whole row but would certainly wish to be considered for a single leg. When Izz then came to the difficult decision that she could only do one leg, it was a no brainer to get straight onto the phone to Lizanne. Luckily for us she was still keen – happy days!


Whether on the boat or now off, Izzy has been a machine to keep the wheels in motion back in the UK, as well as being so thoughtful Izz has even written us cards, wrapped presents and co-ordinated videos for us to watch on day 10, 20, 30 etc. Lizanne too has been busy on email giving us blog ideas, discussion points and working with Izz to organise an event when we’re back in the UK.

Both Izzy and Lizanne have brought different things to the row and a different dynamic from leg 1 to leg 2, but this is what has made it so special. A journey in each leg, a new team dynamic, a new colleague that steps on the boat as a team member and off the boat a true friend.

Last night was one of the most memorable night time moments aboard Doris. The sea was a glass calm and with the sound of only our oars breaking the water each stroke, when we stopped rowing it was the quietist I have ever heard it. No waves breaking, not even a gentle breeze to have wind in your ears, it was completely silent. As Nats and I were about to change over with Meg and Ems, I suddenly heard a hollow breath in and exhale… A whale! The moon had set so it was pitch black apart from the star filled sky, so we couldn’t see the whales but only could hear them breathe at the surface for about a minute before they dove back down. Their entrance and movement through the water was even silent, just the breath through their blowhole to be heard.

The Twelve Days of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me a striped cane of candy.
On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me two boats a passing.
On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me three sharks a circling.
On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me four Christmas hats.
On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, five Tupperware
On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, six boobies flying
On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me, seven belly flopping fish,



  1. Jim Andrews says:

    As always, Laura, a great, informative read. Your selection process sounds like a contender for selection into the SAS. I keep bleating on about how incredible you all are but it’s blindingly obvious that you are incredible. You have to be. Your skills are so clear to see, even in this virtual world, in which we live. Everyone of you have your successes in life, yet you create a life/career break, to support very deserving causes and fulfil an ambition. You all shine in different ways yet you all shine as one when it comes to this project. I truly hope that this opportunity to share your journey extends into the period of readjustment post Cairns. I think the 6 months following your epic journey will be equally challenging. I look forward, though not as much as you, to your well deserved period of rest and recuperation. Thank you again for allowing me to share your journey. Stay safe. XX

  2. Poora Singh says:

    Missing you here at British Athletics Laura. Still so proud of you man. Just to let you know , your now that friend that you tell everyone about at every Xmas party ,because theyv done something incredible that no one else’s friend has done ! Major Bragging rights !
    Stay blessed, stay safe, complete your mission, live the life gifted to you.
    Big hugs as always my friend.

    Poora Singh. X

  3. JG says:

    I have said before that I thought that this expedition had been set up in a very professional fashion and your blog post has just proved that for me.

    The professionalism continues on land and post expedition so whatever your plans are they will succeed.

    All that remains now is for you to cover those last few remaining nms to Cairns.

    Speed seems to be picking up again -excellent.

    Keep safe.

  4. Babs says:

    Glad to see Laura that you recognise all the team have made this epic journey and each and everyone have equally played their part in achieving success. Cannot wait to read about the other girls,Emma, Natalia and Meg.You all are doing a better speed over the last day or two, so hopefull this will continue. As parents we are so proud of you, and so grateful for the support of your workplace, they have been so understanding. Stay safe and cannot wait to greet you in Cairns very soon. Xxx

  5. Liz says:

    Fab blog as always Laura, fascinating insight learning of the selection process, you are all without doubt amazing women with individual assets that have made your epic adventure such a success. On a different note, we will all be drinking a toast to you brave girls on Christmas Day with your Mum! Dad and co, we will send you an email also. God speed girls. Xx

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