Cyclist Mark Beaumont: The day my family thought I had died

Explorer Mark Beaumont has revealed he has given up risking his life for adventure.

Mark Beaumont.  Picture: Ian Rutherford
Mark Beaumont. Picture: Ian Rutherford

The Scot, 35, is famed for record breaking ultra-endurance challenges that stretch the limits of the human body.

He has cycled around the world twice, pedalled the length of Africa and the Americas, and even rowed to the magnetic North Pole.

But in 2012 he thought he would die during a failed attempt to break the world record for rowing across the Atlantic Ocean.

The expedition ended after 27 days when the boat capsized and the team had to be rescued by a Taiwanese cargo vessel.

Beaumont said that his family, including wife Nicci and mother Una, thought he had perished at sea, and that the experience was one he would not put them through again.

Speaking ahead of an appearance at the Edinburgh International Book festival next month, Beaumont, who also now has two young daughters, said: “That’s the only time I’ve very clearly had the thought I might die.

“There’s other times I’ve been in a tight corner, stormed in at 7000m on mountains and I’ve seen people sadly pay that ultimate price, especially climbing.

“But when you’re treading water 500 miles offshore in your pants with no life jacket on in rough seas, it’s a pretty rational thought ‘unless we do a hell of a lot, this is it’.

“That definitely helps you rethink your priorities when you do make it back.

“Even if I wanted to do that again, there’s no way I’d put Nicci and Una through that again. There was the best part of a day when they thought we were dead, so that was enough.

“If you look at the risk profile of the things I’ve done in recent years, they are shorter and they don’t have that same exposure - if things go wrong, how serious are the consequences?

“Some of the high altitude mountaineering or the ocean rowing I’m not doing any more.

“The things I’m doing now, I’m still pushing myself harder than ever as an athlete, but they’re not necessarily risking quite as much.”

Beaumont has dedicated his new book, “Around the World in 80 Days: My World Record Breaking Adventure”, to Nicci and their daughters Harriet and Willa.

It recalls his most recent 18,000 miles around the globe, and how he pedalled more than 200 miles per day to complete the challenge in just 78 days, 14 hours and 40 minutes.

Starting and finishing at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, he smashed two Guinness World Records and beat the previous record by 45 days.

Beaumont, who will discuss the feat at the Edinburgh International Book Festival on 27 August, said: “I was hell-bent on finding out how fast I could go 18,000 miles. It was brutal but we smashed the world record by 39 per cent.

“Nobody thought it was possible but we got an extraordinary welcome back.”

* Mark Beaumont will discuss his new book “Around the World in 80 Days: My World Record Breaking Adventure” at the Edinburgh International Book Festival on 27 August.