A little under 82 hours after setting off from John O’Groats on Monday morning, David Walliams and his team of cycling celebrities arrived at Land’s End just before 7pm this evening - and as they did so, a tweet from Sports Relief confirmed that they had hit their £1 million fundraising target.
The team’s achievement is particularly impressive when you consider that not only is this a group of novice cyclists, but they were also riding the route the ‘wrong’ way, against the prevailing winds, and had to cope with the tail end of the most severe winter to have hit the UK in decades.
Walliams undertook the final solo turn himself, heading towards the setting sun, and was joined for the last few miles to Land’s End by his team-mates, Davina McCall, Fearne Cotton, Miranda Hart, Patrick Kielty and Russell Howard. Missing was the seventh member of the team, Jimmy Carr, who had managed to squeeze in a day’s riding yesterday in between work commitments.
Although temperatures last night, as the riders headed down through the Welsh Marches and towards the southwest were much kinder than they had been earlier in the week, when it dropped well below zero in the Scottish Highlands and the Lake District, team trainer Professor Greg Whyte had cautioned that today’s final leg would be tough for psychological as much as physical reasons.
“"In any endurance event like this the final third is always really tough,” said Professor Whyte. “With the amount of effort they have put in and the sleep deprivation they are suffering even a gentle hill at this final stage can feel like a mountain," he added.
Fearne Cotton, who has proved to be one of the most adept riders among the celebrities, acknowledged how draining the ride to date had been earlier today. “We know that we need to try and keep something in reserve for the hills in Cornwall,” she said, “but to be honest I'm just running on empty now anyway so we will just have to see how it goes."
Walliams, who has previously swum the English Channel for Sports Relief, said after the third and final night of riding: “This was my last night ride and as much as I've grown to enjoy being woken up at 2am to go out and cycle up an enormous hill, I shan't miss it. This has been really difficult.”
The riders have been followed by a film crew during their training and the four-day bike ride itself, for a documentary to be screened on BBC One at 9pm on Thursday 18th March.
You can still make donations to help the team build on the £1 million so far raised on the dedicated page on the Sport Relief website, which also includes video diaries and full details of the team's endeavours.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.