Like this site? Help us to make it better.


John Woodburn, oldest man to set Land's End-John O'Groats record, dies at age 80

He was 45 years old when he rode the end to end in 45 hours, 3 minutes and 16 seconds

John Woodburn, who held the record for the fastest ride from Land’s End to John O’Groats from 1982 to 1990, has died at the age of 80.

Born in Birmingham, Woodburn was working as a telephone engineer in Berkshire at the time of the record attempt, which he undertook in the colours of Manchester Wheelers.

After waiting for a favourable southwesterly wind, he set off on the morning of Friday 13 August 1982 - he was not the kind of man to worry about superstition - and knocked 96 minutes off the existing record, set the previous year by Mick Coupe.

Woodburn covered the 848 miles from Cornwall the northeast Scotland in 45 hours, 3 minutes and 16 seconds.

His exploits were captured in Ray Pascoe’s film, 2 Days and 2 Nights, still available on DVD.

Aged 45 at the time, he remains the oldest man ever to have set the record, and did so more than two decades after becoming national 25-mile time trial champion in 1961.

He still holds a national age group records including for 10 miles and 50 miles.

His Land’s End to John O’Groats record stood until 1990 when it was beaten by just 57 seconds by Andy Wilkinson.

It’s testament to both men, and to the difficulty of the challenge, that the record would not be broken again until 2001, when Gethin Butler rode the end-to-end in 44 hours, 4 minutes and 20 seconds - a record that still stands to this day.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

Add new comment


Anthony coupe | 7 years ago

Sadly John past away this yr ..I first read this article shortly after his death ..which is why I have waited till now as a mark of respect to mention that MICK COUPE is actually the oldest person to break the record ..John was born in 1936 ( mick ) was born in 1935 ..please amend this article accordingly..thankyou

Huw Watkins | 7 years ago
1 like

A tremendous cyclist.  He did a 21.48 for a 10 at the age of 70.  Amazing.

Welsh boy | 7 years ago

A great man, I have fond memories of riding against John in the 1980's.  At one event when I was fortunate enough to beat him in a 50 mile TT he came over after the event and started to chat to me and asked my what gear I had used which made an impression on me which has lasted to this day.  I thought I had done really well to beat him and I was a legend in my own mind for doing so but when I found out he was preparing for the LEJOG and was using the race to get some miles in it put my performance that day into perspective.  The fact that John came over and spoke to me really showed him as the gentleman he was.  My thoughts are with his friends and family on this sad day.

Latest Comments