James Cracknell's LEJOG record attempt abandoned less than 70 miles from John O'Groats

Unspecified safety issues force former Olympic champ and pilot Jerone Walters to stop riding

by Simon_MacMichael   October 3, 2011  

Cracknell Lejog screengrab from Map My Tracks.jpg

Olympic champion rower James Cracknell and time trial specialist Jerone Walters have failed in their attempt to set a new record for a men’s tandem ride from Land’s End to John O’Groats.

The pair were forced to stop riding just before 1.30 this morning with just 68.3 miles of the 842-mile journey left. At that point, they had ridden for 46 hours 26 minutes 16 seconds at an average speed of 16.7 miles per hour.

That suggests that it was going to be a very close run thing as they tried to beat the existing record of 54 hours 14 minutes 25 seconds, which has stood for 46 years, with the pair needing to ride the final 4 hours or so at a speed of just over 17 miles a hour.

However, a message on their page on the website Map My Tracks said: “We are very sorry to report we have had to abandon the LEJOG record attempt. Safety is our priority and we simply can’t continue.”

There is no news yet as to what it was that specifically forced the abandonment o the record attempt, named Rocket 2 team after the Terry Dolan-designed bike that Cracknell and Walters were riding, although their support crew tweeted that “James & Jerone are ok.”

It’s the second time that Cracknell, who suffered serious head injuries when he was hit by a truck while cycling in Arizona last year, has had to abandon a LEJOG record attempt.

In October 2009 he and Rebecca Romero were forced to stop riding when on course to beat the record after the women’s individual pursuit Olympic champion suffered swelling around the knee.

12 user comments

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Thanks for letting us know. But your bleary eyes must have missed that the record they were chasing was 50:14 (not 54:14 as written, and yes, after a strong start it was getting very close indeed.

Still, if it was easy we'd all be at it of a weekend... fair play for a big effort.


posted by Littlehuan [46 posts]
3rd October 2011 - 7:49


It sounds like a sensible decision, as they must have been exhausted. Since Inverness, they had been losing time, averaging 13-15mph, where they needed to be hitting around 17mph. The last 140 miles is very very tough, so it's a big ask. By my calculations, at the time they stopped, they would have needed to average faster for the remainder of the ride than they had done for the 700-odd miles they had done so far, which would have been an even bigger ask.

If sleep deprivation was the problem, it would have been history repeating itself. On the 1966 record ride that they were trying to beat, Swinden and Withers had problems with the 'stoker' falling asleep, but apparently he kept pedalling whilst asleep!

Given that Cracknell and Walters are top athletes, it just shows how classy that 1966 ride was. That ride was done on a tandem that had been bought a year before for £10. The riders had also spent over an hour in two sessions in A&E getting treatment for a badly swollen knee. Lastly, a number of the bridges that are on the route now simply weren't there at that time, necessitating extra miles up and down the valleys!

[My source for the historical information is John Taylor's "The End to End Story"]

posted by TimD [13 posts]
3rd October 2011 - 7:49


TimD - My current pet hate is the use of the word 'ask' Angry
I think you meant to type 'task'

... ... need more speed!

JC's picture

posted by JC [136 posts]
3rd October 2011 - 11:28


JC wrote:
TimD - My current pet hate is the use of the word 'ask' Angry
I think you meant to type 'task'

I don't think you'll be able to stop the development of the english language - good or bad - by posting on this forum. that's a *really* big ask Big Grin

cactuscat's picture

posted by cactuscat [304 posts]
3rd October 2011 - 11:48


Valiant attempt and a massively big ask for the last leg of the journey! Makes the 1966 record seem almost miraculous.


posted by pedalismo [60 posts]
3rd October 2011 - 12:13


Language correction noted, JC. But what are you getting upset about? It's not as if I said it twice... Oh. Ah.

posted by TimD [13 posts]
3rd October 2011 - 16:23

1 Like

Applause It's nice to finally see some respect for the current record holders. There are very good reasons why it has stood for so long and even if they had broken the record their average speed would have been slower than Swinden and Withers'. The fact that the course is now shorter means that breaking thr record by anything less than an hour is just not cricket

posted by sportyspook [1 posts]
3rd October 2011 - 17:11


There's a press release as to why on www.project7racing.com now. Basically extreme fatigue endangering the riders.

posted by simon F [1006 posts]
3rd October 2011 - 17:23


Ask and task? Thanks for the reminder! I've couldn't remember what came before 'big 'asks' and now I remember a time when 'big tasks' and 'tests' ruled the earth, 100 percent was all you could logically achieve and 'awesome' was reserved for events or deeds which elicited genuine awe. No offence meant to Tim D but not all changes to the english language are progressive in 'like' a positive sense. Innit.

Silly me. You're probably right....

MercuryOne's picture

posted by MercuryOne [1114 posts]
4th October 2011 - 10:49


Big ask isn't that bad. It's merely an abbreviation of asking a lot. You can't get worse that using "could of" instead of "could've" or "could have". That really is bad grammar, nearly as bad as getting shot by a panda...

Granted there are a lot of bridges that weren't on the route in 1966, but there were very few traffic lights back then and much less traffic. If Cracknell and Walters had a police escort then I think they would have been in with a chance. I have lost so much time in training at traffic lights. You can easily lose 5 minutes of every hour.

If cycling is indeed a sport of self-abuse why aren't more cyclists sectioned under the mental health act?

posted by hairyairey [292 posts]
4th October 2011 - 19:40

1 Like

Meanwhile, outside of pedants corner: I thought TimDs post was really interesting. Will have to look up that book as inspiration for LEJOG. Thanks Tim


Lynne Truss


posted by arrieredupeleton [580 posts]
5th October 2011 - 8:45

1 Like

Well done to them for a noble attempt and sympathy for failing; but why on earth an attempt at this time of year? It's dark early morning and early evening; it's windy, it's wet, and it's cold. Why not in May or June with really long bright days? I did my LeJog in September last year and the weather was already closing in up in Scotland (and accommodation closing down for the winter). I can't imagine it's any more pleasant in October.

Better luck next time chaps!

posted by RuthF28 [96 posts]
8th October 2011 - 13:22