Rower on solo race set to spend Christmas Day with freeze dried meal

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A rower taking on a solo trek across the Atlantic will spend Christmas Day 2,300 miles away from home as she swaps a traditional Christmas dinner for a freeze dried meal. Miriam Payne, 23, is currently taking part in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, described as the “world’s toughest row”. She set off from La Gomera in the Canary Islands on December 12, and hopes to reach Antigua in the Caribbean on February 8. Miriam will spend Christmas alone on the boat away from her family.

She hoped to “re-do Christmas” when she completes the challenge and comes back home.

Speaking from her boat, Miriam said: “I don’t think it’s going to feel like Christmas Day at all. I’ve got some cards and little presents from family and friends, and then I’ll have a ring round and ring some of the other rowers to see how everyone is getting on. I don’t think it’s going to feel like Christmas. I think I’m going to have a re-do of Christmas when I’m home.

“I’m having freeze dried rations which sounds a bit depressing but I’ve got some treats as well like extra chocolate.

“I’ve also got a chocolate orange and a can of a fizzy drink which I’ve been saving for Christmas and I’m dying to crack into that. I’ve got a satellite phone, so I’ll definitely make time to speak to my family and check in and see how they’re doing.”

Miriam will be competing against around 30 other teams in the race, and is currently rowing at least 14 hours a day to be able to finish the challenge in 60 days.

The former astrophysics student decided to take part in it because she thought it was “a great opportunity” and knew she would “regret not doing it”.

She also wanted to raise money for two charities – Mind Hull and East Yorkshire and Wellbeing of Woman.

Miriam, of Market Weighton, East Yorks, said: “It is just such a great opportunity to raise money for my two charities but there’s also the element of why not?

“It’s something where the more I heard about it, the more I knew I had to do it and I knew I would regret not doing it so I just thought I would give it a go. It’s been good so far, there’s been lots of ups and downs as I think now the loneliness has set in.

“But I’ve been really enjoying it, I’ve seen some really good wildlife including some really cool whales and it’s just something you’ve got to get on with really.”

Even though Miriam is really enjoying the challenge, she has said she is looking forward to having a ‘proper shower’ and using ‘a non-moving toilet.’

The former University of Glasgow student said: “I think I’m just looking forward to normal food, like fresh fruit.

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“I was craving bread and potatoes the other day, and I just wanted really buttery toast. I also want a proper shower and a non-moving toilet would be nice.

“I’ve got around 2,500 calories of freeze dried food and 1800 calories of snack packs such as chocolate breakfast bars, more normal food from a supermarket. I’m having lots of freeze dried pasta, curries, chicken and rice but it’s not always the most satisfying thing I’m not going to lie.”

Miriam also wants to encourage other people to do the challenge and has said that people need to ‘go for it’ as it’s ‘such an incredible experience.’

She said: “I think just go for it. It’s hard and it’s hard to get to the start line but it’s just such an incredible experience. But just go for it, don’t let your noggin hold you back.”

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