The Ultimate Long Distance Challenge

While I’ve been laid up ill with Mumps, I’ve caught up with some of the programmes I’ve captured with Sky+. Last night I watched the final episode of “The man who cycled the world”, which followed Mark Beaumont, a Scots lad, who cycled the prescribed 18,000 miles in 195 days; taking 82 days off the current round the world cycling record.

He cycled, on average, 100 miles a day for 185 days with only 10 rest days and travel days – an incredible achievement. The story is narrated by Peter Capaldi – the same guy who has been narrating the “Real Monarch” series – and it’s very watchable. All four parts are still available on BBC iPlayer for anyone who hasn’t caught it.

Anyone who has walked one of the world’s long paths, or LEJOG in the UK will, I’m sure, be able to relate to what Mark had to go through to complete his epic trek. Day after day of gruelling exercise, pushing your body through pain and injury, through all types of weather and all types of adversity, but at the end of it all the deciding factor is not your body but your mind. The will to continue has to override the desire to stop, the desire to rest, the desire to just rest here for another hour, another day. Mental toughness is just as important as physical toughness, in fact I would go so far as to say it’s much more important. On a long trek you can work yourself fitter, but your mental resolve becomes weaker as hardship kicks in.

On a miniscule scale I can relate to this. My Offa’s Dyke failure of 2007 was almost totally a failure of my willpower. I won’t repeat the story in this post, you can read it all here. I have resolved never to abandon a trek again – the failure produces so much regret. I look at what Mark went through to complete his goal and I think I will need a lot of that if I ever want to walk LEJOG.

The bizarre thing about his journey was where he got into the worst trouble. He cycled through Eastern Europe, the Middle East, skirted Afghanistan and through Pakistan and had no trouble – then gets run down and mugged in America! Bloody typical!

Well done to Mark. Have a watch – it’s good stuff and I defy anyone not to get a goosebump or two at the end of the final episode.

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