Round-the-world cyclist and runner in new challenge

TWO of the Capital's most accomplished endurance athletes are to join forces for the first time this weekend as they take part in an extreme challenge over land and sea.

Round-the-world cyclist Mark Beaumont is to join Mark Cooper, who last year ran from Amsterdam to Barcelona, on The Trip To Remember.

The challenge will see a 15-strong team cycle, row and trek from Dublin to the top of Snowdon in 36 hours, to raise money for the Alzheimer's Society.

They will pedal 45 miles from Dublin to Arklow, then get into an open rowing boat to row 90 miles across the Irish Sea to Porthmadog, and finally hike 15 miles up Snowdon.

Mr Cooper signed up for the trip despite having no rowing experience, and his enthusiasm for the task helped persuade Mr Beaumont to take part too.

The cyclist is in the final stages of preparation for his next major challenge, to row 450 miles through the Arctic to the magnetic North Pole.

He said: "I've been preparing for it since November but mostly off the south coast where you're quite near to shore. When I heard about this event across the Irish Sea, which is a really infamous tough stretch of water, I thought it would be a good opportunity."

Although he has been training hard for the Arctic, he said he thought the sea crossing would be the most difficult part of the challenge, which begins today.

"It's a 45-mile cycle, which is a nice little warm up, and a nice little jaunt up Snowdon. I know for a lot of people they're big challenges, but I'm in fighting fit shape. So by far the biggest challenge is the 90-mile crossing and we're going to be doing a lot of it at night."

He said he was looking forward to taking on the trip with Mr Cooper, who he helped prepare for his run across Europe last summer. He said: "I helped him out with some introductions and I've kept in touch with his progress over the last year and it's been great to see his success. You couldn't think of two more different athletes - I'm 6ft 3in and he's a slight, small ultra marathon runner.

"In terms of his ocean rowing background I think he's been in a boat once, but he's built for endurance, and I know he's got the mental toughness to take on anything. It will be great after getting to know the guy to do an event with him."

Mr Cooper, whose first endurance challenge was a bike ride from John O'Groats to Lands End, said he was also excited about the journey: "I met a trainer and we went up the Union Canal for two and a half hours before work, and that's the only coaching I've had.But I've got my girlfriend's dad's rowing machine set up and I've been sitting there in the spare room just breaking the movement down into stages

"Everybody knows that I run, that's really my thing. I'm hoping that the last 15 miles of the hike turn into a run so I can show people what I can do."

He said he was delighted Mr Beaumont had joined the team: "I remember watching his first documentary years ago before I'd done any fitness and it was the reason I got my bike. When I heard that Mark had signed up I thought, 'That's brilliant'. It will be really cool to join him."

For more information see www.thetriptoremember.co.uk.

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