Raising Money for a Good Cause
Cracknell's Cross-Continent Challenge
In one iteration this was the unofficial fan site for James Cracknell, the Cracknell's Cross-Continent Challenge. When the site's domain registration expired the site disappeared from the web. The new owners of the domain wanted to bring the site's archived content back so it could be shared with other James Cracknell fans.
Content is from the site's 2008 archived pages as well as from other outside sources.
For the most up to date information about James Cracknell go to his current website at: amescracknell.com
Welcome to Challenge Cracknell and now an Unofficial Fan Site
James Cracknell has become an inspirational figure in British life, from his Olympic rowing achievements and epic physical achievements to his efforts in raising hundreds of thousands of pounds for charity.
He's only gone and done it!
James has proven how close Africa is, using his own body strength to arrive in just 10 days.
He's capsized, suffered from saddle sores and braved shark infested waters - but the challenge isn't over yet...
James wants to raise at least £200,000 so now needs you to show your support.
Over the years James has taken on several mammoth physical challenges:
He secured an astonishing 12th place finish in the gruelling Marathon de Sables, the 251km ultra marathon in the sweltering Saharan heat. His 12th place made James the highest placed Briton in the 25-year history of what has been described as the toughest footrace in the world.
James is not just good on sand. Prior to the Marathon de Sables, he was part of a team in The Amundsen Omega3 South Pole Race. Suffering frost-bite, infected blisters, dramatic weight-loss, pneumonia and exhaustion, the team traversed the 473.6 miles in December 2008 and were only beaten by a pair of Norwegian polar experts.
With 2 Olympic Gold Medals and 6 World Championship rowing titles, you would also expect James to be a dab hand on the water and he proved this with his epic win in the trans-Atlantic rowing race with Ben Fogle. The pair took their tiny 7-metre boat across in 49 torturous days and arrived in Antigua to win the race. This challenge saw James raise a lot of money for the BBC’s Children in Need appeal and brought about yet another epic feat…
Following James and Ben’s cross-channel row, the BBC stepped in again. This time James would row The English Channel, cycle through France and Spain, and finally swim The Strait of Gibraltar with comedian David Walliams, raising a remarkable sum for Sport Relief.
More recently James has become inspirational for his remarkable recovery from a near-fatal accident in the USA, when he was hit by a truck while cycling across the country. His amazing recovery has been well documented and his strength and honesty an inspiration to many others dealing with the after effects of brain trauma.
Reality: This past summer when the Covid cases in Australia were peaking and most folks were sheltering in place, my father sent my son Through Hell & High Water, the 2006 documentary series that follows TV presenter Ben Fogle and Olympic gold medal winning rower James Cracknell as they struggle to race 3000 miles across the Atlantic in a 24ft rowing boat. My son who has just turned 16 is really into endurance activities, cycling, rowing, Ironman Triathlons, ultra marathons, you name it, which is why his grandfather bought the DVD for him. I, on the other hand, prefer to get my thrills when I play online pokies on Australian casino websites. Although Australia is supposedly is home to 18% of the poker machines on Earth, despite making up just 0.3% of the global population. I don't know about that, but we Aussies do love our pokies. It’s no surprise that Australians lose more money gambling per capita than anyone else in the world, given their love affair with pokies. However, I am not one of those punters who is obsessed with pokies. Sometimes I will just play the Instant Plat / demo versions of a high stakes pokie game, if I don't want to play with money. It's rather thrilling to have $1000 + in a fun balance that you can whittle away by placing large bets. There are a lot of real money casinos for online pokies. My favorite is Fair Go, but if I am in the mood for table games with a real live dealer I will play at Spartan Slots Casino. Also their 3D slots from Betsoft are like playing a video game that pays when you win. The graphics are excellent, the bonus rounds are fun, and the intro/cut scenes are fun to watch.
My son loved Through Hell & High Water, as did I. This adventure has everything from bureaucratic wrangling to get everything ready in time, extreme physical, mental and emotional fatigue, equipment failure and even a capsize and by the end of the documentary to have a clearer idea of the magnitude of the challenge. When my son learned that there is also a book, The Crossing: Conquering the Atlantic in the World's Toughest Rowing Race he now wants to read that.
Day 1 - 27th Feb
Today was a rough day all round: After falling in the drink two minutes into the challenge, the row turned into one of the most uncomfortable six hours of my life - and I've had a few of those! Some of the support crew had to go back to Dover as the conditions were too bad for the boat to land.
I had a few hours sleep afterwards and then managed to get a good 50km cycle under my belt before turning in for a few more hours in the comfort of our tour bus. As it steamed past me with its warm air sucking me up in its draught, it was tempting to call it a night. But I really wanted to get some miles in on the road and feel like the cycle had really begun.
Day 2 - 28th Feb
Latest update: I'm still heading to Le Mans, cycling in the dark on surprisingly busy roads - even though we'd deliberately chosen smaller, out of the way roads to avoid the worst of the traffic. It's been a very wet day but that hasn't stopped me making really good progress. Getting so many miles under my wheels today has kept my morale up. Unlike yesterday, I've been able to eat well and that's done a lot to keep my spirits up.
I'm going to keep going about 1am then catch 3 or 4 hours sleep before setting off around 5am tomorrow. There's still a long way to go but I'm on target and the bike is performing brilliantly.
Earlier update: This morning is a good morning. The weather isn't up to much, but I woke up at 6:00am feeling strong, had a Red Bull and hit the road. I've clocked up 85 km in the first 3 hours. It seems apt that I am headed to Le Mans the home of the classic 24 hour motor event, as so far the action has been 24 hours back to back and there's going to be a few more hours like that ahead of me!
Cheers to the lads on the support crew; they had a hard night to get back on track after the difficulty of the row yesterday and the logistical fall out from that - and we are back in the saddle now with a superb day of riding on smooth, wide and quiet roads through Northern France.
Day 3 - 29th Feb
Later Update: After a good lunch of rice, beans and canned fruit I’ve been making good progress. Tomorrow I’ll have the French/Spanish border in my sights but this afternoon all I was heading for was the next public convenience! Today I’ve mainly been on long straight roads. That’ll change tomorrow when I’m tackling the Pyrenees. So I’m aiming for another 95 miles or so before I stop for the day somewhere between Niort and Bordeaux, probably around midnight.
Earlier Update:Made it to Le Mans last night so it was well worth staying on the road until about 1am - even though it has given me an enormous blister on my bum. One of my support crew bravely 'took one for the team' by helping me treat it. The highlight of the day so far!
Right now, I'm on the road to Niort. Been munching jelly babies and trying not to run over the film crew that keep taking me by surprise by jumping out of bushes. It's so far so good with the bike, been no punctures or problems - touch wood!
I've been using my Nokia N82 a lot to listen to music, that's really helping me stay entertained and get into the rhythm of the ride. The other good news is it's getting a little warmer as we progress further south. I'm taking a little break every now and then for food and water so I'll update you again soon.
Day 4 - 1st March
Latest Update: It's the third day on the bike and I'm digging in. It's getting tough.
Although I'm getting a good 5 hours sleep at night, the mornings are getting harder. We're in the vineyards of Bordeaux and the scenery has changed from the start flat landscapes of northern France. The gently underlating terrain is giving me the opportunity to get out of the saddle, which is good because my bum is really starting to hurt.
I've just had a nice comfy pad made for it out of foam by our medic. It involved me stripping in a supermarket car park which attracted a few looks, much to the embarrassment was a small price to pay for a little extra comfort. Spain is in my sights and we will be pushing for the border, although it will be a tough old slog through the hills of the Pyrenees to get to the border post at 1000 metres altitude on a mountain pass.
I'm looking forward to tapas for my lunch tomorrow – that will make a welcome change from microwave rice! Crossing into Spain marks half way on the cycle so I'm pretty chuffed about that. Another 750 miles and 8 hours open water swim and i'm in Africa. I better keep drinking the red bull!
Day 5 - 2nd March
Latest Update:I'm about half way there now. And that's really lifting my spirits. It's my fourth day on the bike and I'm really feeling it. The Pyrenees took a lot out of me and I'm getting progressively more tired. I'm also starting to feel the pressure of staying on target with timings. I'm doing okay though, there are plenty of things to keep me going - like the the amount of money I'm helping to raise and the picture of Croyde, my four year old son, on my Nokia N82.
The support crew are also doing a great job at raising my spirits, although I could do without some of the bad singing! I'm on the way to Pamplona and I think we're all hoping that the bulls from the famous Running of the Bulls festival are safely locked away.
Day 6 - 3rd March
Latest Update:I'm heading toward Cordoba today. Been snacking on bread and cheese and have been making an effort to mix up my diet a bit for some variety.
Even though it's convenient, there are only so many microwave rice-based meals you can eat without being bored to tears.
One of the things I'm finding hard is being on my own. Even though the support crew are right there in the van, it's quite lonely. The guys have been great at jumping on a bike every now and then and cycling alongside me for a bit of company. But it is tough. So when I stop for food and drink every couple of hours, it's also good to joke about for a bit with the support crew.
Day 7 - 4th March
Latest Update: Patatas fritas and chorizo for lunch, no tapas yet but there is still plenty of time! On target for at least Cordoba today even though after 6 days on the bike, I'm really feeling the mileage!
Have had the first problem with the bike - whilst setting my top speed, a whopping 60 mph - I got a puncture. No dramas though, just swapped out the wheel and back on for more mileage. Considering I've travelled over 1,100 miles, it's amazing that I haven't had more trouble. It's fair to say I am growing very attached to the bike.
It's a lovely sunny day again as we get into Andalucia. I would hate to think what it would be like to do this challenge in the middle of Summer. Even now, in early Spring, the landscape's very dry, I have been past olive groves this morning - starting to feel very Mediterranean! I have been joined for a ride from Simon Ainslie from Nokia, which is great to give me company and keep me powering on...
I am feeling really positive, my adrenalin has been given a boost by focusing on the home straight! Not long now!
Previous Update:I'm on my way to Cordoba. Hoping today's route will be as beautiful as yesterday. Jadraque was particularly attractive. After a big climb up a winding road, I was rewarded with the sight of a magnificent castle. I'm more tired because of the challenging terrain and the fact I'm now seven days into the challenge. So little things, like seeing that great castle, are really refreshing me.
Not much longer left on the bike, probably another day or so - depending on the conditions. I'm starting to look forward to the swim which is likely to be either Thursday or Friday.
Day 8 - 5th March
Latest Update:Stopped for lunch in Arcos, a gorgeous little hill top village. Munched through some chorizo and tapas. There are bright blue skies, and a nice tail wind pushing me along to the finish.
There are still a few mountains to battle through but my bike is holding up amazingly well even after the puncture. I am looking forward to seeing the sea and my wife Bev, who will be meeting me in Tarifa. I'm going to be having a medical when I finish the cycle to check I'm in good shape for the swim, which I will hopefully attempt on Friday dependent on the weather.
Tonight I will be having several media interviews, relaxing and eating lots of food to provide me with energy for tomorrow...
Previous Update: All being well, this will be my last full day cycling. Right now I'm south of Seville and I'm going to try and fit as much in as possible in order to get to Tarifa today.
We're still deciding whether the swim will be tomorrow or Friday. It depends on the conditions and how I'm feeling. It may be safer for me to have a rest day rather than plunge straight in. One thing's for sure, I'm on the home straight now!
Day 9 - 6th March
Latest Update:Even though it's a rest day, it's not like I'm lying around taking it easy! I was still up early to get some physio. Well, I say early - it was nowhere near as early as when I was doing the cycle leg of the challenge.
I've also been doing a round of press interviews with David Walliams, who's joining me on the swim. David's been on top form all morning. He's revealed a fear of sharks, which wasn't something I was worrying about until he mentioned it.
Of the challenge so far, the 14-mile swim is the section where I have the least natural ability. To stop me getting too nervous about it, there's talk of going to Gibraltar later depending on how many press interviews there are left to do.
Day 10 - 7th March
Latest Update:I've done it! I've actually managed to travel 1,460 miles under my own power alone in only 10 days. And it's been an incredible experience.
The swim went much better than either David and I anticipated. It even gave me one of the best moments of the challenge so far when four pilot whales swam around us. An absolutely amazing sight. I'm so lucky to get the opportunity to do these things.
I've got to thank the support crew for making sure we safely navigated the shipping lanes. The Strait of Gibraltar is far from quiet and it could have got quite hairy with some of the large ships and tankers that use this stretch of water.
It took us just 4 hours 36 minutes and 45 seconds to swim the 12 miles. Both David and I could feel the support behind us all the way and it's thanks to everyone who's donated money to Sport Relief that we managed to complete the swim in such a good time.
Words can't express how satisfied, pleased, overwhelmed and exhausted I am now that the challenge is over. I'm so happy to have helped raise so much money for such a good cause. And of course, I'm over the moon to have set a brand new World Record. I've managed to burn an incredible 60,000 calories and slept for just 50 hours in the last 10 days. I've also spent more than 108 hours in the saddle. So I'm hoping this is going to be a tough one to beat and I get to hang on to my World Record for a while!
Previous Update:This is it! The last day of the challenge and it's the big swim. I can't tell you how fired up both David and I are. He's almost bubbling over with excitement. Since the doctor gave me the go-ahead yesterday, it's pretty much all we've talked about.
Until I was declared physically fit to undertake this leg of the challenge, I didn't want to set my heart on completing the challenge today. But now I've got medical permission to do the swim, I'm raring to go! I'd put my wetsuit on now and dived in if I could.
Both David and I are under no illusion, the 12-mile swim is going to be tough. It's pretty rough water out there and the water is freezing. But I can't wait. We think its going to take us between four and six hours, which means the end of the challenge is so close now I can almost taste it.
What's kept me going throughout this challenge is the thought of all that much-needed money I'm helping raise for Sports Relief. I've been so focused on this, I'd almost forgotten I may set a new World Record if I successfully complete the challenge. Check back here to see if I do it!
Latest text message from the team
He's done it! Well done James. He's covered an amazing 1,460 miles in just 10 days to set a new world record and raise piles of cash!