a journal - cycling, sociology, social media

Sunday 10 November 2019

Cycling sea to sea and other epic endeavours with @tompkyschallenges

So if you decided that you wanted to do some sort of physical challenge to raise money for a really good cause like Great Ormond Street Hospital, what would you do ? Maybe a sponsored walk ? a half or even a full marathon ? something on two wheels ? what about a sportive ride ? they can be quite tough. All good ideas and worthy of sponsorship but not quite enough for James Tompkinson (below) James decided that a one off challenge was not going to be any where near tough enough for him ... not even close, so he decided to embark on a year of physical challenges, one each month for the whole of 2019 and so far he has a completion rate of 100% yes it's 10/10 so far for @tompkyschallenges (Note: you can make a donation to Great Ormond Street by following any of the links in today's blog)

James dressed for the weather (2 deg C and raining) and looking slightly apprehensive at the start of challenge 10/12 a 130 mile, two day ride from Whitehaven in the west to Sunderland in the east, with 9000 feet of climbing en-route including crossing the inhospitable North Pennines. You may know some one who has ridden the coast to coast, most likely with a group, most likely during the summer months, but not many none cyclists do it solo, at the end of October, on a 35 year old bike, having only done one 20 mile training ride in the previous 6 months. Loves a challenge does James Tompkinson.
                                             Even map reading can be a bit of a challenge on top of the North Pennines in October

Back to January and its challenge No 1 of 12 - The 'Fan Dance'. If potential SAS recruits find the Fan Dance particularly challenging in the winter then it was bound to appeal to Tompky.

For 5/12 it was a case of not one but three physical challenges in 24 hours but not a solo effort this time as James enlisted six 'willing' volunteers to take it on with him. The Three Peaks is also a testing logistical challenge and Mum Anne (centre) and Dad Gerard (right) were on hand to support, transport and feed the team.

Planning twelve significant challenges in a year is actually quite a challenge in itself, especially when you work full time and have other sporting and family commitments. So when James realised he had a cousin's wedding to attend in Greece in June his only option was to find a Greek challenge - running from Athens to Sparta it was then for 6/12, just a small matter of 150 miles in 30 deg plus temperatures.

James above exhausted and maybe just a little emotional at 1.40 AM at the statue of Leonidas a warrior king of Sparta, having completed his Greek odyssey in 68.5 hours with 34.5 hours 'moving time'

Challenge 9/12 - Medal and finisher tee shirt at the Brandenburg Gate, the Berlin marathon is regarded as a really fast/flat course so James was hoping for a good time. Unusually James doesn't wear a watch for his runs as he prefers to go on 'feel'. His strategy must suit him because despite some nutrition issues in the second half of the race he ran a 6 min PB to finish in 3 hours 32 mins and posted 10k, 10 mile, 15k and 20 K PBs too.

2019 @tompkyschallenges completed so far

January - The Fan Dance a 15 mile SAS selection test in the Brecon Beacons. finishing 12th despite his boots falling apart after 2 miles.
February - The Isle of Wight run, a 75 mile full lap of the island, nice weather expected, he got sub zero temps and a covering of snow.
March - London to Paris - 240 miles in 3 days with his best friend of 25 years, James actually did a bit of cycling before this one.
April - London Marathon - an 'easy' weekend in the big city a guest at the  Great Ormond Street after party and a 3hrs 39min finish.
May - The Three Peaks: Snowdon, Scafell Pike, Ben Nevis in 24 hours (23.32) with six lunatic friends and Mam and Dad support crew.
June - Athens to Sparta run, 35 degrees, and huge blisters, again with family support and @elliereess feet up for James at the wedding.
July - Cleveland Way run, closer to home, but equally tough, 110 miles of North Yorkshire coast over a scorching holiday weekend.
August - Race to the Stones - 62 mile run along the Ridgeway, England's oldest path in 12hrs 9mins finishing 86th out of 3000.
September - Berlin marathon, another family affair running with brother Chris and brother in law Sam, James claiming the honours.
October - C to C cycling, I witnessed this one, was impressed, even amazed, but also slightly peeved that he made it look so easy.

And this month's challenge your probably wondering ? well James has found a nice steep hill and worked out that if he runs up it 31 times it will be the same altitude gain as an ascent of Everest ... so that's what he is going to do !

Surprisingly James is not really an endurance athlete, although he is obviously extremely fit and physically very robust, but he is primarily a field sport athlete, hockey, football and cricket are his favoured sports and although he trains really hard it's probably not in a way that is ideally suited to any of the challenges that he has undertaken.

So how does he do it ? The answer is simple, he is incredibly motivated to help a fantastic cause and has an iron will to succeed. Strength of mind is not something that is necessarily linked with athleticism, nor is it a function of natural ability or physical fitness. In the end it comes down to sheer determination and stubbornness, manifested in an absolute refusal to ever give up. This is an extremely rare attribute and if you are not born with it you can never acquire it ... ever.

Chapeau James Tompkinson.

You can read more about James and his challenging year and also donate over at his blog:


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