Rachael takes on ‘treacherous’ Everest

Athlete Mentors - Lewis Moody (England rugby captain), Thinus Delport (South African rugby), Rachael Mackenzie and Jeremy Newton (Swindon Football Academy Manger).
Athlete Mentors - Lewis Moody (England rugby captain), Thinus Delport (South African rugby), Rachael Mackenzie and Jeremy Newton (Swindon Football Academy Manger).
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Three weeks ago Rachael Mackenzie was standing at 5,200 feet with some of the most challenging children in the UK after climbing Mount Everest for a BBC documentary.

This week she is back on the school run dropping her twins off at Oatlands Primary School before heading to work at Crossfit Gym at Hornbeam park.

“It doesn’t feel like it really happened to be honest, it feels like a bit of dream,” Rachael said.

The former world champion Thai Boxer treked Mount Everest as part of the Extreme Classrooms project developed to help mentor children with educational and behavioural difficulties.

The team faced some of the worst weather condition on Mount Everest in over 30 years, and had to turn back before reaching base camp.

She said: “The snow was much worse than we expected. One day it had started sunny and by lunch time the snow was waist deep, it was really tough going.

“At one point we were sheltering from the the snow in a tea hut. The conditions were quite trecherous, we could see avalanches around us.”

After realising that reaching Everest base camp was not possible the team trekked the neighbouring mountain Kala Pattar reaching 5,200 feet.

“Only six children made it that far because of the altitude, even some of the camera crews weren’t fit enough for it,” Rachael said.

Before leaving the UK Rachael had worried about the effect the altitude would have on her, after tests showed she might struggle to cope.

She said: “I did so much altitude training and used an altitude mask all the time, I even wore it to do my boxing training and I coped better than most.”

As a Sky Sports Athlete Mentor Rachael was selected to take part in the challenge which was being filmed for BBC documentary series, with a Sky Sports camera crew following the development of one of the troubled teens she was mentoring.

“Seeing the kids coming out of their shells and improving was so satisfying. “

Rachael said she was surprised by the number of people on Everest.

“On one day we passed 400 people on our way down the mountain and we had access to wi-fi most of the time.

“You have trained for months for this and for the adults it almost made it feel like less of an achievment, but then you have to remember what a challenge it really is, six people died on the mountain at the time we were there.”

On December 7 Rachael’s challenge will feature on Sky Sports programme, Game Changers and the BBC documentary, The Highest Classroom on Earth will be shown in two parts on BBC Two before Christmas.