Skiers from West Norwood take on the Arctic Circle Race to raise £10,000 for Alzheimer’s Research UK charity


A couple will face temperatures as low as -30C in a three-day skiing race almost 100 miles across Greenland to raise cash for Alzheimer’s Research.

Leanne Spencer and Antonia Bannasch are taking on the Arctic Circle Race in a bid to raise £10,000 for the charity.

They have undertaken their training in Dulwich Park and have so far raised more than £6,500.

They have to be self-sufficient – carrying their own equipment and supplies, cooking and eating freeze-dried food, and waxing their skis.

The couple, who live in West Norwood and are co-founders of health and well-being consultancy Bodyshot Performance Ltd, ran the London Marathon in 2017 and 2018 for Alzheimer’s Research UK.

But they were looking for an even bigger challenge this year.

Leanne and Antonia training on the slopes in Austria

They came across the event online and, despite having no experience of cross-country skiing, decided to sign up.

Most of the competitors in the race are Finns and Norwegians, who are able to train regularly on snow – but Leanne and Antonia have been honing their technique on roller-skis in the park.

They will go into the event having had only nine days of training on snow in Austria.

Leanne said: “After running the London Marathon twice, we decided to take a break from running events and we felt we needed to do something a lot bigger this year to encourage people to support us. Antonia found the Arctic Circle Race online and we thought we’d go for it.

We were attracted to it as it’s a challenge that’s completely new to us. “It’s a huge challenge. It’s full firsts for us.

We haven’t been out to Greenland before; we haven’t operated in such cold temperatures before; we’ve never done those distances, even on foot; and we’ve never eaten freeze-dried food before.

“We’re really looking forward to it and seeing if all our training pays off.

But when we look at footage from previous races where you see Finnish and Norwegian competitors – winter sports athletes – saying how tough it is, then there’s a bit of fear.

“It’s a real talking point for people when they see us training in Dulwich Park.

Lots of people are interested in what we are doing – and dogs are often interested, which can be quite disconcerting.”

Antonia’s father Klaus Bannasch who has Alzheimer’s disease

They are supporting Alzheimer’s Research UK in honour of Antonia’s father, Klaus, who has Alzheimer’s disease and is living in a care home.

Antonia said: “He’s in a very bad way now. He doesn’t speak, he doesn’t really move, he has everything done for him. “It’s a horrendous disease.

We are passionate about supporting dementia research and helping scientists to find ways to diagnose it earlier, slow it down and ultimately stop it.”

To support the duo, go to

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