Fenland accountant pushed to the brink as she runs and swims almost 50 miles to complete fearsome Otillo endurance race


Fenland could lay claim to having produced the world’s most adventurous accountant.

Philippa Spibey.

Philippa Spibey. - Credit: Archant

Former Neale Wade Academy student Philippa Spibey, 31, who has lived in Dubai for the past two years, and her friend America Villar conquered harsh terrain and freezing water to complete the fearsome Swedish Otillo endurance race.

America Villar and Philippa Spibey

America Villar and Philippa Spibey - Credit: Archant

They ran 40 miles and swam 6 miles in 14 and a half excruciating hours.

The week before, Mrs Spibey completed a 300 mile London to Paris charity bike ride as a warm up.

Mrs Spibey, reflecting on the Otillo race, said: “The terrain on the first island was unlike anything we had experienced, it was a mixture of scrambling over rocks, running around the edge of the water on large stones, fighting through woodland on trails and sliding down rock faces on our bottoms.

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“It was difficult to get into any kind of running rhythm and we witnessed another competitor slip on the rocks and face plant into the floor. We checked if he was ok and he jumped up and later overtook us.

“While the going under foot got a little easier the water seemed to be getting colder and colder and the rocks to climb bigger and bigger.”

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The savage course pushed both Mrs Spibey and Mrs Villar to their physical limits.

She said: “My Achilles was inflamed and I was struggling. I ran down hills and walked up hill trying to run as far as possible with the pain before walking to ease it up a bit,

“America had the opposite problem with her knee - she could run uphill but struggled downhill and she couldn’t stop to wait for me as she then couldn’t get going again.

“The final 10km was going to be long and hurt. The final swims were short but the currents were strong so we had some local triathletes with us to make sure after 13 hours of racing we didn’t drown.

“When we eventually crossed the finish line we were tired and sore and America used the hot water and I was left to have a cold shower. “The Swedish countryside is amazing although next time I think I will enjoy it by canoe or with a leisurely stroll through the countryside.”

Her mother, Sheron Spibey, of March, said: “She is so determined. What they achieved was amazing and frightening at the same time.

“With all her past adventures we have always been able to keep track of her at all times but this time around we had to rely on GPS.

“It was agonising waiting for them at the finish line. I started to think it would be the first time she’s not been able to succeed at something but they eventually arrived in a terrible state.”

Jonathan Spibey, Philippa’s father, added: “I don’t know why my daughter does stuff like this.

“When she got back to Dubai instead of taking it easy she treated herself to a freefall parachute jump.”

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