A former England rugby player and an international athlete are among four adventurers attempting to regain the world record for navigating the Thames in a pedalo.
Andy Long, 43, who was a hooker for England, Bath, Newcastle and Northampton, and former international decathlete Alex Gibson, 43, are part of the team hoping to beat the current record for completing the 128-mile length of the river in a 4mph pedalo.
They set a new record last year of two days, 15 hours and two minutes but within three weeks Daniel King, Dominic Clark, Joshua Shaxson and Tom Hartley beat it with a time of two days, 10 hours and 15 minutes.
Following last year’s attempt Mr Gibson told the PA news agency he could not “even contemplate looking at a pedalo any more”, but he now admits being “slightly disgruntled” that their record was beaten so quickly.
The team hopes to raise more than £20,000 for motor neurone disease charity Challenging MND.
Mr Gibson, who was diagnosed with MND in 2018, is leading the team and is joined by Mr Long, patron of Challenging MND, as well as Alun Thomas and Joe Reed.
They left on Wednesday morning from Lechlade in Gloucestershire and hope to reach Teddington in south-west London in under two days by travelling non-stop.
Mr Gibson, from Essex, said: “This is once again going to be a massive challenge.
“Our record was beaten three weeks after we smashed the last one, so this time we are aiming to put the record out of sight by going non-stop throughout the night, completing the route in less than 48 hours.
“As a former GB decathlete with the competitive mindset, I was slightly disgruntled when the record we made last year was rebroken only three weeks later.
“With hindsight we should have really gone to town as we left too much out there.
— Challenging MND (@challengingmnd) June 16, 2021
“It has made me hungry to redo the event and make sure we make it a very challenging marker this time.
“After all you only live once and my time is shorter than most. The clock is ticking. I am really excited about this and last time was a warm-up but this time we are serious.
“We have a great support team and it’s going to take every ounce of effort for us to go non-stop.”
Mr Gibson founded Challenging MND following his own diagnosis three years ago and has raised more than £220,000 for charity, including cycling the Outer Hebrides and scaling Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon.
Donations to the challenge can be made at: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/AlexGibson16