Swimming 60, Running 600, Rowing 600, Cycling 6000km over 2020

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My challenge title is unfortunately, a bit of a mouthful. In fact it was a challenge in itself at the start of the year getting people to even understand what I was attempting to do. But I had always wanted to raise money for CRY in memory of my friend, Alex Hubbard, and I would be damned if the challenge was going to be easy! I therefore decided in late 2019 that I would attempt to swim 60km, run 600km, row 600km and cycle 6000km over the year of 2020. I had worked out that the weekly averages seemed achievable and so I set up the gofundme, sent out the invites and I started!

Cut to 3 months later and I hadn’t clocked up many kilometres in any of the categories. Despite setting out what I thought were realistic targets, work and life appeared to be getting in my way. So whilst everyone prepared to go into lockdown due to Coronavirus, I was scheming drastic targets to get back on track. I managed to find a rowing machine in late March and decided that every day in April I would run 3km and row 5km. At the weekends I planned to cycle 150km+ and I hadn’t yet figured out how to catch up on swimming. With the plan in place I started to execute and saw the kilometres covered start to grow and grow. Through April, May and June I continued covering large distances in these 3 spaces and turned my attention briefly to swimming. With the pools closed I took to the sea and started swimming there as often as I could. Which wasn’t much.

By September I had completed the rowing portion of the challenge, my running was on track, swimming was woeful and I was preparing for the biggest challenge of my life. The Lands End to John O’Groats cycle. With a few bike packing adventures now under my belt, I set off and completed the 1600km+ journey with my partner in crime and completed in 11 days. Seeing places all throughout the UK by bike was fantastic and led to some amazing adventures and experiences. There were some truly mentally and physically exhausting parts but it was all worthwhile as this was when I started to see over £1750 of donations. This really spurred us on and kept us going. Although there was never any doubt in my head that we wouldn’t finish!

After the cycling challenge was complete I returned home and eyed up the remaining distances that needed to be covered. Going into November I had 40km left to swim, 100km left to run and 1200km left to cycle. With the pools closing again for a second lockdown I did the only thing I could do. Donned my wetsuit and started hitting some aggressive swimming kilometres in the winter sea. I maintained my weekly running targets and started cycling indoors as often as I could, with long outdoor cycles getting more difficult as winter progressed. I finally hit my swimming target on the 21st December and ended the challenge on the 31st with an 8k run and 80k cycle.

With the distances covered I had a final influx of donations reaching a total of £2640. The challenge itself was incredibly tough at times with the most surprising part being the extent of the time commitment. In total around 750 hours dedicated to this cause with 450 hours of those actually swimming, running, rowing or cycling. All in all though it was worth it to see this money get donated to a great cause and to finally make a contribution to this charity in memory of my friend.

James Benson-King