Mark Beaumont in at the deep end with latest endurance test

YOU would think not much could faze global adventurer and record-breaking cyclist Mark Beaumont.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 25th May 2012, 2:00 pm

But he has admitted that his latest challenge – a swim across Loch Tay – is “way out of his comfort zone”.

The 29-year-old is preparing for what has been described as Scotland’s toughest one-day endurance event to help raise funds for Edinburgh-based Mercy Corps.

He will aim to complete the challenge alongside Mercy Corps worker Brian Atkinson to raise funds and awareness for the charity’s project rehabilitating child soldiers in Colombia.

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The 15-mile run across seven Munros, seven-mile kayak and 34-mile cycle as part of the Artemis Great Kindrochit Quadrathlon are all pretty standard fare for Mark. But the relatively short 0.8 mile swim is another matter.

He told the Evening News: “The cycling should be fine after my expeditions cycling around the world, but I’m actually a bit concerned about the swim across the loch. It’s way outside my comfort zone.

“I don’t know who will be looking after who on the day. I imagine Brian will be a better swimmer than me but maybe I can offer some help on the bike.

He added: “The event takes place close to where I live so it’s my back garden in terms of training.”

The documentary maker and round-the-world cyclist will join hundreds of others taking part in the event.

There are an estimated 14,000 child soldiers in Colombia, with the Edinburgh charity providing safe homes, counselling, rehabilitation and vocational training for many who have escaped or been rescued, to help them start over.

Zoe Hopkins, the charity’s Edinburgh-based programme officer for Latin America, worked with the Mercy Corps team in Colombia in April.

The 39-year-old, who lives in Leith, said: “Brian’s pretty fit and athletic, but inevitably he’s not going to be able to compete with Mark’s kind of fitness and endurance. Mark knows that though, and is happy to take part and support the cause without pushing for a record- breaking time.”

Brian will travel to Scotland from Colombia to take part in the challenge. He also wants to thank participants for all their support for his team’s work with children and young people affected by the conflict in Colombia.

The 37-year-old American said: “This is such an important project and we’re very happy to have Mark’s support. With his help and the fundraising efforts of all the participants, we can continue to help former child soldiers start a new life, free of violence and fear.”

Mercy Corps is still looking for volunteers to help out at the event in Perthshire on July 14. To get involved email [email protected] or call 0131-662 5167.

Rebels use children as young as 12 to fight

THERE are 14,000 child soldiers in Colombia’s armed groups.

The average age that a child joins the FARC, Colombia’s largest rebel group, is 12.

A total of 5000 child soldiers have demobilised since 2001 – 83 per cent escaped and 17 per cent were captured or rescued by government forces.

Mercy Corps is helping more than 15,000 children and their families, assisting those who have been child soldiers recover and start a new life, and keeping those who haven’t from being recruited.

The team gives former child soldiers a safe home and space to recover from their experience, counselling, training in life skills and independent living, vocational training and internships.