Shrewsbury School

Around the World in 80 Days

Friday 4 May 2018

On 28th April, pupils were treated to a fascinating and motivating talk by Mark Beaumont, adventurer, broadcaster, documentary-maker and author, who last year broke the world record for circumnavigating the globe.

Charlie Ocklestone (O LVI):
Mark Beaumont has completed some of the toughest challenges in the world. His aim is not just to complete them, however, but to break world records – the most famous of these being his 80-day circumnavigation of the globe by bicycle. The previous record stood at 106 days 10 hours 33 minutes; Mark smashed this time, coming home in 78 days 14 hours and 40 minutes. 

He spoke to us not only about his journey on the bike but also about how he managed to achieve his goal. The route itself was 18,000 miles long, starting and finishing in Paris, and it was split up into four stages. The first stage was a long haul from Paris to Beijing. Then he caught a flight to Perth, Australia, where he took on stage two, ending in Auckland. This was the shortest but hardest stage, as temperatures in New Zealand when he started riding at 4am were well below freezing. He then cycled from Anchorage in Alaska to Halifax on the east coast of the USA. And then he flew for the final time to Lisbon, where he faced a 1,100-mile sprint finish back to Paris. 

Though the physical feat was tremendous, since he had to average 240 miles a day, he explained that it certainly was not achieved by the efforts of just one man and that considerable team planning and logistical speculation had gone into the expedition. The Artemis team had to keep a tight schedule of a 9,000-calorie day and 16 hours on the bike, which they had to stick to rigorously as the margin for error was incredibly small. However, they also had to deal with any disasters en route. It didn’t all run smoothly, as in the first stage Mark had a big crash and cracked his elbow – still having to carry on cycling despite being in agony. Mark explained that his team played a major part in helping him to achieve his target, as they kept him going when it got tough.

He also explained that he did not get to his final goal through back-to-back successes. He had serious failures during his time as a professional endurance athlete, which spurred him on. Most notable among them was the crash he experienced while attempting to complete a trans-Atlantic crossing by rowing boat in under a month. This crash combined with the boredom he found with ocean-rowing showed that he could not do something purely for the physical challenge; it needed to be an adventure as well. He therefore advised us to pursue a passion in life, as it can be turned into a profession if good infrastructure is built around it. 

The core message that resonated from the lecture and one of the major reasons for Mark’s success over the years was his mindset in not just aiming to do marginally better than any previous records, but to do what he thought he was capable of. It was a hugely beneficial even to those with no sporting interests, as his personal story and the wider messages he interwove into the talk were inspirational for us all.

Felicity Hayward (EDH LVI):
It was humbling to hear someone who had achieved such a great physical feat not dwell on his success but on what we as young people were able to learn from what he had done. One of his main messages was the importance of intricate planning and the small milestones you have to achieve to reach your final goal. This was an important message for everyone in the audience, helping us to appreciate how something initially unthinkable can be achieved when it is broken down into small chunks. 

Another point that he dwelled on strongly was the importance of setting goals based on your own capabilities, not on what others have achieved in the past. In the context of his 80-day challenge, this was particularly relevant to him as his target was so much greater than any previous record.

Sophia Breese (EDH LVI):
Mark Beaumont made it clear at the beginning of his lecture that he did not just want to talk about his physical hardship and achievement over the years, but wanted to focus on the mind-set that has enabled him to have such great accomplishments. This mindset is one of positivity about what you, as a person, want to get out of what you do: that if you want to follow your heart with your future decisions, you must have a plan and discover a way to make it happen. 

Listening to him speaking about his interesting childhood living on his parents’ farm and being home-schooled for the first ten years of his life, we gradually realised that Mark had not actually known what he wanted to do in life until his final year at university. This led to the understanding that you should not force yourself to do something just because it fits the mould; you should do it because it is what you love and it is how you want to live your life.

Tobias Libreros (I III):
When you say to someone who did something famous, ‘I would like to be like you when I grow up’ you only like the idea but you don't really want to do it.” This was the phrase that I liked the most. Mark Beaumont’s ideas about resilience were excellent. His mental and physical strength had to be at their peak all the time during these heroic expeditions. 

I really enjoyed this lecture from the start to the beginning. He kept me awake even after a long day.

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