Earlier this year, four Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity fundraisers set up their own challenge: to cycle 350 miles in 24 hours.
We caught up with the Jake and Gareth from the team to find out how they got on.
“The challenge came about when my friend and inventor of crazy challenges, Jake, committed to raise money for Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH),” Gareth said.
Jake added: “Over the past five years I have been involved with cycling, triathlon and charity fundraising which has been rewarding and life-changing for me. I used to weigh over 125kg and was a heavy smoker. I had a life-changing moment and focused keeping fit while raising money for charities close to my heart.”
Earlier this year, Jake took part in the GTR100 triathlon event. He said: “The lure of the GTR100 challenge helped me decide that GOSH would be my charity for the year ahead. I’ve been extremely lucky that no one I know has been treated at the hospital but I felt that joining the GTR100 would be a great way to support an amazing charity.”
Organising a 350-mile challenge
Jake said: “We organised the challenge as a team with our families helping wherever needed. We are lucky to have a broad range of skills between us, although cycling was the easiest bit! We spent a long time getting in touch with companies to help with sponsorship.
“The challenge was set up so that at least three of the four of us would be cycling at once, with one resting. We all rode over 300 miles, helping each other to complete the challenge in 22 hours and 58 minutes.
“Our support drivers and mechanics were amazing, they kept us safe on the route and made sure we were fed and hydrated. They were like a fifth team member really.”
We asked Jake about the team’s training routine and how they made sure they were ready to go the distance: “In preparation we did a lot of miles on the bikes, squeezed in a few dawn rides and did long turbo sessions during the winter when we couldn’t get out on the roads,” Jake said.
“We got our children involved in training too. My newborn son (now nicknamed Coach) has been pushed in his push chair and towed in his bike trailer so we didn’t miss out on time spent with our families,” he added.
Highs and lows
Gareth told us about his best moments on the ride: “The highlight of the challenge for me was arriving at Cambridge to find 20–30 fellow riders waiting to cycle the final stretch with us.
“We also received a message from a friend of ours who, unbeknown to us at the time, is currently under GOSH and has benefited from the work of the charity.
“I think the first 100 miles were the toughest, we were cycling into the night and right into the wind,” Gareth added.
Jake’s high point was the team spirit and support of their friends: “The team really got behind the idea and fully supported the challenge. We’ve got some really generous friends who’ve all donated too. We branded up the support car and received random donations via text which was really great and showed we were making an impact while out on the roads,” he said.
“Gloucestershire was tough. I live in Suffolk and trained in East Anglia which meant I was used to the wind but not the hills. There was a period of about four hours where it just felt like we were climbing. My knee went at the 230 mile mark but I dosed up on painkillers and with a bit of team spirit and we finished the challenge,” Jake added.
We asked Jake what motivated them to plan the epic cycling challenge: “Each of us had our own reasons for taking part, even if some friendly persuasion took place!” he said. “We have been cycling together for the past three years and between us we have all achieved some great milestones, and this is another to add to the collection of stories to bore non-cyclists with,” he added.
The team’s original fundraising target for the year was £2,500. “We’ve raised around £3,500 so far,” Jake said. “We’ll continue fundraising until December though”.
Our advice to others
As a fundraising fanatic, Jake shared his top tips: “My advice to others would be not to panic, you’ll raise your target if you put the hard work in. Make sure you get a good support team around you for a challenge like this. I would never have achieved this much without my wife, family, friends and the support of my fantastic team mates.”
Gareth suggests you get the pre-challenge organisation right: “My advice to others would be to plan really well, we did and everything went fine as we’d thought about all eventualities. We took a mechanic with us and unbelievably we didn’t even get a puncture between us!
“Also, don’t get disheartened if donations don’t come in as quickly as you might expect, people are often waiting for a bit of hype or to see if you actually go through with it,” Gareth added.
Future fundraising plans
We asked Jake what his next fundraising event would be: “Despite being injured I’ve got a half ironman challenge left. I travel to South Africa soon to race the Cape Ultra in the GTR100 kit. It’ll be my last fundraising challenge of the year, but we’ve got a few pub quizzes lined up too.
“I’m not sure what our fundraising future looks like yet, the team are all enjoying a well-earned rest.”
If you’d like help organising your own fundraising challenge, contact our Community Events team on 020 3841 3131 or email firstname.lastname@example.org