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Sadie Fitton’s 14,625m Climbing Challenge: A Journey of Resilience and Determination

Sadie Fitton, a cyclist based in Melbourne, embarked on a remarkable journey in April 2023, aiming to break the Guinness World Record for the greatest vertical ascent by bike in 24 hours (female).

Climbing the challenging slopes of Ararat’s One Tree Hill – a staggering seventy-three times – Sadie had her sights set on surpassing the existing record of 14,624.89 meters set by French cyclist Stéphanie Gros in 2016.

Despite starting strong and being ahead of the world record pace at the halfway point, Sadie faced challenges with nausea during the second half of the attempt and ultimately had to pull out at the 16 hour mark. Nevertheless, she climbed over 10,000 meters, well above the height of an Everest, before calling it a day. 

Sadie Fitton is preparing for a second world record climbing attempt despite being diagnosed with breast cancer. Image: Aimee Hyde Photography.

Determined and undeterred, Sadie vowed to make a future attempt.

Just six weeks later she received devastating news—the diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer, also known as Stage 4 or secondary breast cancer. This type of cancer has spread beyond the breast and started to grow in other parts of the body, including Sadie’s bones and liver. Despite the grim prognosis associated with metastatic breast cancer, Sadie responded remarkably well to initial treatment, with manageable side effects and a level of normalcy in her life.

Sadie riding Ararat’s One Tree Hill.

Sadie is acutely aware that the remaining cancer will eventually develop resistance to current treatments. Nonetheless, she remains resolute in her determination to pursue her goals while she still can. 

Determined to battle on, she has recently launched a project called ‘UpStage’, a second attempt to break the world climbing record in 24 hours.

“I first attempted the record in April last year and, although unsuccessful, I learnt a lot and vowed that I would make another attempt,” she said.

“Just six weeks later I was diagnosed with Stage 4 or metastatic breast cancer, treatable but incurable.”

“The months following my diagnosis were terrifying and I didn’t know if I could even ride my bike again. 

“The good news is that I have responded incredibly well to treatment and intend to make a second attempt at the world record in April 2024. 

“This is ‘UpStage’ and this time I will also be raising awareness and vital funds for metastatic breast cancer research at the world-leading Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre (Peter Mac) in Melbourne/Naarm, where I receive treatment. The project has already raised over $12,000.”

Sadie and her small team have put out the call for sponsors and supporters, with Guy McAusland of Bikebox, the Australian distributors of Exposure lights, saying he was honoured to be providing the lights for the UpStage challenge.

“It’s a tremendous effort, it really is,” Guy told us. “Close to 15,000 metres of climbing … it’s just phenomenal.”

“We’re fitting Exposure’s Diablo lights as she wanted a light that’s both ultra lightweight and super bright,” he continued. “We’ve told her we’ll fit a remote handlebar switch so she can ride up the hill with the lights dim then switch to high beam of full power for the descent. The switch will be important as she won’t have to take her hands off the bars at each turn. Why the Diablo’s? Basically this is because she wants to ride as light as possible and every gram counts when you’re doing that much climbing.”

Sadie’s target is to raise at least $14,624.89 – one dollar for every metre that she has to climb to break the current world record.

You can follow Sadie’s world record attempt journey on Instagram (or Facebook) via @upstagembc.

You can make a donation to metastatic breast cancer research via upstagembc.com

If you would like to support Sadie and UpStage, please get in touch to discuss how you can contribute.

You can contact Sadie and the Upstage team via hello@upstagembc.com

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