Runner, turned triathlete, Nicki Aitken, will be putting her pedalling prowess to the ultimate endurance test as she raises money for blood cancer charity; Cure Leukaemia by cycling Le Tour – One Day Ahead of the male peloton.
Aitken lost both her father and grandmother to the disease, so the challenge to complete the gruelling course, is particularly poignant for the athlete.
“Dad was my biggest fan and came to watch all my races…I wish I could tell him all what I’m doing but I know he will be looking down and would be proud of me” says Nicki.
Former England international footballer and blood cancer survivor, Geoff Thomas will also be joining gold medallist Aitken, tackling all 21 stages of the Tour de France together. Their journey starts just one day ahead of the men’s peloton this July.
Not only will the Aitken raise money for a cause close to her heart, but she’ll also make history as the first female to complete the 3,664 kilometre course – regarded by some as one of the world’s toughest cycle routes – in such a professional manner, with rolling road closures and pro-team support.
With a marathon time of 2 hours 54 minutes, she says it’s not the physical challenge of completing the course, but the financial challenge that is most daunting. Aitken has pledged to raise a massive £50,000 for Cure Leukaemia. “It’s time we knew more about this horrid blood disease, so research can progress and ultimately we can improve the treatment available.”
The countdown to Le Tour has very much begun with just 19 weeks left to go, and the gruelling training scheme is in full swing. A typical week consists of 6 days training, with one day off for physical and mental recovery. Despite working full time, Aitken pushes her body to the brink during early morning thresh hold training sessions and ends her day with another hard cycle session of an evening. Long distance rides are saved for the weekend when she has more time.
“It’s tough but I love what I do. I am fortunate to be looked after by Nick Anderson (of Runningwithus) who ensures my training is structured and allows a training-work-life balance.” But if ever the athlete hits a rocky patch in training, she says it only takes a glance at the picture of her father to remind her of the motive behind all that hard work.
“My family and I are very close – I am very lucky to have a great support network behind me. My nieces and nephews are so excited having their Auntie ride The Le Tour De France.” Says Aitken.
Cure Leukaemia works to develop new treatments and drugs for patients suffering with blood cancers. The money raised will enable the charity to train and support research nurses deliver more clinical trials and blood cancer treatments.
Aitken is looking for sponsors to help her raise £50,000 as part of the £1 million target for Cure Leukaemia which the group aims to raise.
To help support Aitken, Geoff Thomas and the team please donate at their justgiving page