Determined fundraiser bids to break world plank record



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A determined fundraiser has set her sights on a gruelling challenge in a bid to break a world record, while raising money for charity.

Grace Blackie from Eyemouth is two weeks away from undertaking a daunting challenge that she set herself as a new year resolution - despite undergoing a second hip replacement just four months ago.

On Saturday, July 12, at The Fight Academy in Berwick, she is going to hold her body in the physically demanding ‘plank’ position for as long as she can, in the hope of breaking the women’s world record for this exercise - which stands at a staggering one hour and 20 minutes.

The plank is an isometric core strength exercise that involves maintaining a difficult position for extended periods of time. The most common plank is the front plank which is held in a push-up position with the body’s weight borne on forearms, elbows, and toes.

Grace admits she is not a natural gymnast or athlete, but said she had decided to set herself this task, first of all because “it’s a challenge”, and secondly to raise as much money as she can for Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research, a charity with which both she and The Fight Academy are directly involved.

She is fully supported in her venture by her husband, Alan; her daughter, Emma, who works as a beauty therapist in Bermuda and so is advising from afar; and her son, Simon, who is studying Nutrition at university in Edinburgh, and acting as personal fitness coach to his mum when he’s at home.

It’s a family affair, with Grace’s big brother Rob taking on the mantle of “mental mentor”.

The challenge is recognised as formidable by experienced and natural athletes.

Current British record holder Gordon Haigh said: “The exercise is all about body strength and improving the core muscles and lower back.

“People generally only do it for about a minute as it is quite an intense exercise.”

So, imagine the challenge for Grace, a lady in her 50s who has to manage rheumatoid arthritis, scoliosis, degenerative disc disease, a dropped foot and erosive gastritis. In the past, she has also been diagnosed with a hernia, IBS and colitis.

In addition Grace had her first hip replacement in February 2013, and then a second hip replacement in March 2014, which of course has had a significant disruptive bearing on her preparation since the start of this year.

Undaunted, Grace has decided to go for it on July 12 and is working her socks off to be ready.

She hopes that her tremendous effort will raise as much money as possible for Leukaemia and Lymphoma research.

Grace would like to thank everyone who has already made a contribution to the charity, her family for their tremendous support, The Fight Academy for use of their premises and their advice and encouragement, and The Tavern pub in Eyemouth, which will be hosting a party following the event on July 12, where there will be lots more fund raising opportunities – to which everyone is invited!

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