Rugby star and decathlete part of pedalo world record bid team

A former England rugby player and international athlete are among four adventurers attempting to break the world record for navigating the Thames in a pedalo.

Andy Long, 42, who was a hooker for England, Bath, Newcastle and Northampton, and former international decathlete Alex Gibson, 42, are part of the team hoping to beat the current record for completing the 128-mile length of the river in a pedalo.

The record, which was set in 2018, is four days, 12 hours, 49 minutes and 17 seconds, and they hope to do it inside three days on the 4mph pedalo.

The four-strong team set off from Lechlade in Gloucestershire and are heading to Teddington in south west London (Ben Birchall/PA).
The four-strong team set off from Lechlade in Gloucestershire and are heading to Teddington in south west London (Ben Birchall/PA).

The team will be representing motor neurone disease charity Challenging MND and hopes to raise more than £10,000 for charity.

Former Great Britain decathlete Mr Gibson, who was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 2018, is leading the team and is joined by Mr Long, patron of Challenging MND, as well as Alun Thomas and Joe Reed.

They left on Wednesday morning from Lechlade in Gloucestershire and hope to reach Teddington in south-west London by Friday evening.

“It’s going to be incredibly tough but we have selected a very strong team, not just physically but with the correct mindset to drive us home and hopefully smash this record,” Mr Gibson, from Essex, said.

“We have a fantastic support team on board too without which none of this would be possible. Everything is geared up to making a superb new Guinness World Record.

“Please watch this space.”

The team set off on Wednesday morning aiming to break the current Guinness World Record of four days, 12 hours, 49 minutes and 17 seconds (Ben Birchall/PA).
The team set off on Wednesday morning aiming to break the current Guinness World Record of four days, 12 hours, 49 minutes and 17 seconds (Ben Birchall/PA).

Mr Gibson founded Challenging MND following his own diagnosis two years ago and has raised more than £150,000 for charity, including cycling the Outer Hebrides and scaling Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon.

“We are committed to breaking this Guinness World Record for Challenging MND,” he said.

“Being on a pedalo for 13 or 14 hours a day will be tough but I can’t wait.

“We have been training hard and are confident that we can complete the 128 miles faster than anyone before us and raise over £10,000 for charity.”

– Donations to the challenge can be made at: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Team/GuinnessWorldRecordThamesPedaloChallenge