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Testing Keratoconus to the Extreme: an Epic Arctic Adventure

Testing Keratoconus to the Extreme: an Epic Arctic Adventure - By Ashley Winter‏ - Keratoconus Group

Some time ago I was bitten by something, quite possibly a snake, this has caused issues over the years, resulting in a small disability. I also have an eye condition called Keratoconus. I am not blind by any stretch of the imagination, but I do have difficulty with light sensitivity, visual distortion and discomfort. I use 2 contact lenses per eye and this helps me gain vision just good enough to drive.

My aim in life is to inspire other with such conditions to be positive and embrace life, I aim to test my eye condition to all kinds of extreme conditions and prove that this can be done.

Since being diagnosed with this condition I have completed many challenges including a 100 mile cycle sportive, coast to coast charity cycle, several 24hr mountain bike endurance races, triathlon, swimming championships, half marathon, a ski racing program and most recently an expedition to the Arctic circle.

Testing Keratoconus to the Extreme - By Ashley Winter

The expedition was in Arctic Sweden with temperatures around -35°c at night. We traveled by dog sled, living off the land and with the help of the locals, it was an incredible experience and something I shall never forget. The most enjoyable part was doing something I had never experienced before, seeing the northern lights, making new friends, getting to know how to dog sled effectively and living off the land.

Ashley WinterThe most challenging part was quite simply the cold, everything froze, including my eye medication (things like drops and solution). The pain I felt in my extremities was unbelievable, something I had not prepared for and I suspect I could not have prepared for any better.

I believe the power of sport and adventure to be very powerful, you can lose yourself and not worry about things, having a purpose, having a goal and ultimately pushing yourself to be a better person. Making that first step to the gym, track or pool, focusing on something other than your condition, be it a 100 mile cycle race or a 2 mile walk to work, you will feel better, you will get fitter. I would however recommend joining a local club, this way you will be told if you are doing something wrong and how to improve it, prevent you from getting bored by lone training and it also gives you the opportunity to make new friends with the same interests.

I have recently joined Hereford Triathlon Club and have had a very positive experience, they have made me feel very welcome. Since joining I have attended swimming sessions and signed up for cycle time trials and am working towards a triathlon later in the year, whatever your ability, whatever your story, get out and embrace life.

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