Ex-GB athlete diagnosed with MND drives team to Thames pedalo record

·2-min read

A former international athlete diagnosed with motor neurone disease and his team of adventurers are reclaiming the world record for navigating the Thames in a pedalo.

Decathlete Alex Gibson, 43, former England rugby international Andy Long, 43, as well as Alun Thomas and Joe Reed, shaved around seven hours off the previous record.

They set off from Lechlade in Gloucestershire on Wednesday morning on the 4mph pedalo and arrived in Teddington in south-west London having completed the 128-mile course in 51 hours and 59 seconds.

The team reclaimed the world record by completing the 128-mile course non-stop (Jonathan Brady/PA)
The team reclaimed the world record by completing the 128-mile course non-stop (Jonathan Brady/PA)

They were able to set the new time by navigating the Thames non-stop, only resting briefly for food and massage sessions.

This is the second time in 12 months the team have completed the challenge, having set a world record last year of two days, 15 hours and two minutes.

But within three weeks, Daniel King, Dominic Clark, Joshua Shaxson and Tom Hartley beat it with a time of two days, 10 hours and 15 minutes.

Speaking after stepping off the pedalo, Mr Gibson, from Essex, said: “It’s fantastic and really good fun and to spend all this time with such a superb support team and the crew was my absolute delight.

The team pedaled from Lechlade in Gloucestershire to Teddington in south-west London in just over two days (Jonathan Brady/PA)
The team pedalled from Lechlade in Gloucestershire to Teddington in south-west London in just over two days (Jonathan Brady/PA)

“It really was a fantastic experience, and we went to some really dark places but it paved the way for us to achieve this. A fantastic memory and really good fun.

“No doubt about it, it’s been a tough event to be a part of but it’s going to make our record extremely hard to beat – any challengers out there, good luck to you.

“It was incredibly challenging going through the nights and torrential rain in the last few hours, but we kept positive and kept going.

“I hope achieving this really boosts awareness of motor neurone disease – this is at the heart of what we do at Challenging MND.

“It’s been fantastic to be part of such a superb team, and all the support we’ve had has been amazing.

“I want to thank everyone that has been a part of helping us smash the Guinness World Record once again.”

Mr Long, who played rugby union for Bath, Newcastle and Northampton, added: “He’s inspirational and you keep going because he keeps going, so you have to.

“The whole team, the support from everyone, the conditions. It was a complete team effort, 100%.

“It’s a world record for everyone involved. Very proud.”

Mr Gibson founded Challenging MND following his own diagnosis three years ago and has raised more than £220,000 for charity, including cycling the Outer Hebrides and scaling Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon.

Donations to the challenge can be made at: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/AlexGibson16

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