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Julia Haggis who suffers from ME sets new world record by going round the Isle of Sheppey on a paddle board

By Lewis Dyson

An ME sufferer has made history by becoming the first woman to go around the Island on a paddle board.

Julia Haggis took 11 hours, from 8am until 7pm, to finish the 40-mile course during Saturday’s Round the Island Race, travelling at an average speed of 5mph.

The Emerald View, Warden Bay, resident had only decided to attempt the feat a few days before and had shingles weeks earlier.

Julia Haggis after her successful paddle board around the Island
Julia Haggis after her successful paddle board around the Island

ME, or chronic fatigue syndrome, is a condition which affects the immune system and hormone levels and can leave sufferers feeling persistently exhausted.

It also means Mrs Haggis will take twice as long to recover.

She first took up the sport three years ago and is now third in the UK ranking for 14ft board which sees her travel around the UK.

The mother-of-two goes to the gym four or five times a week, practises on her board once or twice a week and also juggles two jobs as a catering manager and marshalling cars at Sheerness Docks.

The 45-year-old said she felt “annihilated” when she crossed the finish line and was given an ovation by crowds gathered at the Isle of Sheppey Sailing Club in Marine Parade, Sheerness.

On the trip around the Island she saw nine seals and their pups and stopped off in Shellness where some locals gave her a cup of coffee.

She said: “It was amazing. Honestly a couple of times I thought about giving up but I kept plodding and I felt amazing when I finished.

“I had a great reception from the sailing club.”

She said the paddle boarding, which involves standing on a board and using a paddle to propel yourself forward, took its toll on her back and thighs. She was planning to go back in the gym just three days after the race.

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