On 17 September 2017, Mark Beaumont rose to acclaim as he completed a record breaking cycle around the world; covering over 18,000 miles in 78 days, 14 hours, and 40 minutes. Prior to this, Mark embarked on a number of other notable adventures: in 2010 he cycled the Americas, in 2011 he rowed from Resolute Bay to Nunavut Territory as part of a team of 8, and in 2015 he cycled from Cairo to Cape Town – again breaking the world-record for the fastest solo ride across the length of Africa. Beaumont can be aptly characterised as an adventurer, cyclist, documentary maker, author, and broadcaster. But, above all his accolades and achievements, he cites the importance of human connection in the making of any great experience.
1. What is your background and how did you get into cycling?
My name is Mark Beaumont, I am 37 years old and I live in Edinburgh with my wife Nicci and 2 young daughters. I currently hold the Circumnavigation World Record by bicycle, covering 18,000 miles in 78 days and 14 hours. I was homeschooled and lived on a farm, so in that regard, sport and adventure were there right from the start. When I was 12 years old I cycled across Scotland and since then, the journeys have just got bigger and bigger.
2. What are your top tips for joining the endurance sports world?
We can’t all be sprint or power athletes, but we can all endure – endurance is about nutrition, planning and mindset, the physical aspect is far less important and comes after all of the above. Endurance is also a great leveller between men and women, and also across ages – the only thing stopping you enduring is your preparation and your resolve.
3. Other than conventional training, what do you do to help yourself be the best athlete you can be?
A lot of endurance athletes focus on big miles and big hours, whereas I commit a lot of time both cross-training and core strength workouts. Being an endurance athlete is not about being the strongest athlete, but about not injuring yourself, not breaking down – so the more versatile of an athlete you are, the better conditioned you will be for long hours during the events. Unlike most cyclists, I spend time fell-running, which builds up all the small muscle balances around my ankles and knees – purely for injury prevention. I also focus on a fat adapted diet.
4. What are you doing during COVID-19?
During this time, I am taking full advantage of our daily exercise. Given we are only allowed out once a day for about an hour, I am running instead of cycling and my 6 year old daughter comes with me on her bike. Our mission is to have run/cycled every single street in Edinburgh by the time she goes back to school after the summer. It is important to have projects like this and routines, to keep the fitness discipline. This is also a great time to build her confidence and skill-set as a young athlete.
5. What are some of the highs and lows of your time in endurance sports?
Over the past 15 years, my expeditions have taken me to about 130 countries. Whilst I have mainly been pushing firsts and fastests, the aspect which motivates me most is not the athletic ambitions, it is the people, places and cultures that I get to experience. Whilst I am not an adrenaline junkie, there is certainly a level of risk taking on these journeys and the highs and lows are almost always aspects that you can’t plan for. You will also notice that my high points are not the World Records or the accolades, they are the human connections and money-can’t-buy experiences made along the way.
Here are some low points which have stuck with me. Capsizing mid-Atlantic while attempting to break the record of a 30 day Atlantic crossing and subsequently spent 14 hours fighting for our lives; seeing climbers fall to their death on Denali in Alaska; filming the changing sea levels on the Kiribati Islands; rowing through the high Arctic in Canada to show how the ice is melting; and losing my great friend David Peat, to myeloma. David was the man who got me into filmmaking.
But for every low point, there have been some truly amazing highlights. To name a few: cycling alongside a giraffe at full canter in Botswana; rowing through a pod of beluga whales in the Arctic; the friendship of strangers, for example, staying at a truck stop in the middle of the Sahara desert; free riding the world’s highest volcano in Chile; and, when finishing my latest cycle around the World, seeing my family for the first time in a few months.