Over the past few weeks I've been looking at different ways to travel from London to Paris, of course there is the obvious modes of transport, planes, trains, automobiles, ferries and even some of rowed (see earlier post). However, I have came across a feat of pure endurance. I come across a book during the summer of 2007 describing the Arch to Arc by Steve Haywood and was gob-smacked, I just sat back in amazement, but then quickly continued on with my day. However, as you dig deeper into the feat of athletic endurance, this individual race is astounding. The the London to Paris Triathlon or Arch to Arc (ie Marble Arch, London to the Arc de Triomphe, Paris) has to be one of the world's toughest endurance races and consequently few people have completed it. The race consists of a 87 mile run from London's Marble Arch to Dover, followed by a swim, 21 miles, across the English channel and finally bike 180 miles, from Calais to the Arc de Triomphe. A Run, swim, bike triathlon totalling some 288 miles from London to Paris.
Let's break this down: 1. Run 87 miles, that's equivalent to running more than 3 consecutive marathons. 2. Following the ultra-marathon you lather yourself up in lard to prevent hypothermia or alternative you can wear a wetsuit however, official Channel swim crossings are not recorded if a wetsuit is employed. Then you jump in the English Channel, wetsuit or not and attempt to swim across to Calais; that's 21 miles of swimming that's equivalent to swimming the Ironman swim distance of 2.4 miles 8.75 times or 1344 laps of a 25 m pool, but added obstacle being in open water swimming across the busiest shipping lanes in the world against at times relentless tides. Following this feat, which by the way has only been completed less than 1000 times since the first recorded successful unassisted swim across the Dover Strait by Captain Matthew Webb in 1875 who took 21 hrs and 45 min. Since then the fastest recorded swim was by Petar Stoychev on 24 August 2007 who completed the crossing in an amazing 6 hrs 57 min (what a time!!). Once you have removed the lard which was preventing hypothermia you have a chance to regain for land legs, allow blood to return to head then you commence the third and final leg of the race cycling from Calais to Paris some 180 miles equivalent to only 1.6 Ironman bike leg.
According the Enduroman website, only 5 men have attempted the triathlon with 4 of them completing; Eddie Ette in the World Record time of 81 hrs 5 min, And Mouncey, Julian Crabtree and Steve Haywood. Seven further people have booked their places to attempt this amazing endurance event over the coming 18 months. All the best to those contemplating this astounding feat of endurance however, the question that most people must be asking is why and I'll explore this in a future post.