Around The World in 80 Days: Mark Beaumont
Mark Beaumont is a champion British athlete. He’s been smashing world records in cycling, rowing and global circumnavigation for the past decade. His toughest record attempt yet saw him cycling around the world in 80 days — a route inspired by Jules Verne’s classic novel. He’s just returned, having biked through Europe, Russia, Mongolia, China, Australia, New Zealand, the US and Canada, supported by calorie-packed FIREPOT meals each day. With this achievement, Mark breaks two world records and raises £80,000 for Orkidstudio, a charity that builds innovative structures for social enterprises in developing countries. Our news editor, Olivia Lee, catches up with him upon his return.
If you could be a superhero, who would you be?
He’s not a superhero, but I’d be the American pilot sidekick to Wonder Woman. That’s perhaps not a wise choice, as he doesn’t survive, but I much prefer the idea of being the mortal ally to a superhero — still involved in heroic adventures, but without the powers.
What’s the first thing you notice about a person?
Their presence, their self confidence.
When have you felt most alone?
Rowing the Atlantic. It’s the loneliest landscape you can imagine – big waves followed by little waves, for weeks on end. I found out very quickly that I’m a land lover.
What’s your definition of ‘important’?
Feeling valued for my work, as well as being in charge of my own career. And spending quality time with my family.
What was the last thing you Googled?
The name of Wonder Woman’s sidekick!
How tired is tired?
I’ll never find the words to describe the mental space you have to adopt when you’re cycling 16 hours a day for 78 days, sleeping less than five hours a night. Nearing the end, I felt like I’d played all my mind tricks, used all my experience, dug as deep as I could — and yet the road still kept coming, day after day after day. I suffered a huge amount and it’s a level of pain that I wouldn’t return to lightly.
If we could have air-dropped you a home cooked meal on your round-the-world trip, what dish would it have been?
My mother’s homemade cheesecake — I’d have eaten it all in one go. And then I’d have asked for a fillet of monkfish, wrapped in pancetta with vegetables.
Who do you go out of your way to be nice to?
Pain: what does it mean to you?
There is a big difference between ‘hurting’ and ‘being injured’ — the trick as an ultra endurance athlete is to recognise the distinction. I fractured my radial head (left elbow) and broke a tooth during a crash on my round-the-world cycle. That hurt a lot!
When was the last time you cried?
During my recent trip. I cried three times I think, each out of frustration and exhaustion.
What photograph means something to you and why?
A great, late friend of mine was David Peat, the BBC documentary maker. I have a number of his black and white prints of Glasgow in the late 60’s. I spent a lot of my childhood and teenage years there, and his images capture a moment in time so brilliantly.
Do you believe in good luck talismans?
Nope – I’m not superstitious at all.
What’s your definition of ‘hard work’?
Seeing a task through, even when you no longer want to. Doing what you said you’d do, long after the moment you promised it has passed.