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LEJOG

Not French for 'a run'

English for Land's End to John O'Groats


Words: Paul Chapman

Images: Andy Hibberd (Leading Imagery Photography)


I love someone who's up for a challenge, so when I met Andy Hibberd, if I'd had a cap on, I'd raise it to him! He's riding LEJOG (that's Land’s End to John O'Groats – 840 miles), which includes riding the height of Everest plus some, so pretty impressive … BUT! He's not taking the usual ten days. His target is less than 50 hours, non-stop!


It was originally a solo attempt, but he now has the support of Paul Sorrell, who's been training alongside Andy for the last year, oh and it's been moved from 2021 to 2022 for reasons I'm sure you'll be aware of.


"Paul will be someone to talk to, although I'm likely to fall in a heap at the side of the road as he bores me to sleep!"


So, who is this chap, Andy Hibberd? I met him through a What's App group request, and for starters, he was a Royal Marine and Royal Navy Commando, who left in 2009 to set up his photography business, Leading Imagery, based at Clay Cross.


Like all Royal Marines, Andy spent his time in the same basic training that all Marines undertake and in over ten years in the services, it has taken him to 26 countries, taking in 5 Operational Tours.


In 2002, he was serving in Northern Ireland in a role where he was working alongside a front-line photographer; there is one assigned to each unit. "The role of front-line photographer is to work within the HQ element of a Commando Unit", explains Andy, "to portray what's happening and also capture photos from all manner of use including Intelligence, Media and ultimately recording historical actions."


Andy went through the eight-month training at RAF Cosford to gain his photography qualifications, which saw him promoted before being shipped back to Iraq to support the Commando unit.


"After leaving the military, I found my love for cycling again, first on the mountain bike, then road riding and the challenges it brings. I started looking for longer rides, 300km, 10k feet of climbing, 200-mile sportives (rides you pay to do with a planned route and feeding stations etc., fun, social challenges), that sort of thing.

"We'll need to average 17mph to cover the 840 miles and 30,000 feet of climbing, and I've been working with a coach, Ken Bryson from Total Endurance based in Aberdeen, to keep my heart rate in target zone two, less than 140 bpm for the duration."

"I'd always fancied LEJOG, but I wasn't interested in the usual multiday ride. I wanted a challenge, two days, which became the under 50 hours target. The record is 43 hours.


"We'll need to average 17mph to cover the 840 miles and 30,000 feet of climbing, and I've been working with a coach, Ken Bryson from Total Endurance based in Aberdeen, to keep my heart rate in target zone two, less than 140 bpm for the duration."


Andy aims to raise £10,000 split equally between the Royal Marines Charity and Dementia Awareness, charities close to his heart. "I had a friend who had dementia, it was horrific to see them suffer. It's best to let them just be as happy as they can."


With his military background, Andy pulled a few strings to get people on board. A charity dinner on 8 April 2022 at Santo's Higham Farm & Restaurant will see Gary from Duratus UK and Craig Williams Ultra talking, both former servicemen who worked alongside Andy, there will also be an auction at this event with lots including a day at the Commando Training Centre in Lympstone and a one-off sketch by Tommy Hibberd of six times Olympic Champion Sir Chris Hoy signed by Sir Chris.

Also planned on Sunday 3 April is The Ashover Charity 100km Sportive sponsored by Bainbridge's Hair, which takes in parts of the Peak District with a final push to Beeley. Alongside this, they'll be a 10km ride at the Ashover showground for Families. For details, Google' Ashover-Charity-100km'.


Also planned on Sunday 3 April is The Ashover Charity 100km Sportive sponsored by Bainbridge's Hair, which takes in parts of the Peak District with a final push to Beeley. Alongside this, they'll be a 10km ride at the Ashover showground for Families. For details, Google' Ashover-Charity-100km'.


Andy enrolled the services of Ken Bryson, who coached Dean Stott, another former serviceman who did the Pan America's world record-breaking ride in 2018, and Andy is somehow finding the time to ride five days a week, run a business and still spend some time with his family. He does admit to having an excellent support team around him and a very understanding wife! All this was fine during the lockdown when he had more free time, but he finds that he's starting to feel the pressure, "there is an expectation growing, and I'm accountable for the outcome, the time on the road and the turbo trainer is feeling real as the event approaches," says Andy. The start date is scheduled for the week commencing 18 June 2022, whichever two days offer the best weather window, the original event was planned for 2021, but COVID put this back 12 months.



As we chat, the following weekend for Andy involves a 170-mile ride with an overnight stay and then another 170 miles back the following day. He needs people to support him on Saturday. They drive back, swap over, and two others help him on the return leg. It was clear how appreciative Andy was of these guys. Without them, this challenge simply wouldn't be happening.


There are an important bunch of local businesses who have stepped up as sponsors as well, so a shout out to each of them; Liam from Lords Roofing & Sons (Wingerworth), Team Boot Camp (Shropshire), Grinsty Train (across the UK), Middlebrook Transport (Alfreton), Paint & Bodywork Services (Chesterfield), Sheaf Marble (Sheffield), Buzzbox Fitness (Chesterfield), Nix Cycles (Sutton in Ashfield) and Leading Imagery (Clay Cross). Along with a whole host of individuals and businesses who has supported everyone in one way or another over the last year.


Andy loves a target, his training is a massive commitment, and this isn't just a run of the mill charity challenge. Anyone who is using the Tour of Cambridgeshire Cycling Festival's Time Trial and then a 100-mile sportive the day after as training has to be pretty serious about achieving his goals.


As I type, Andy has raised £8,300 of his £10k target, so he isn't far off. If you want to donate either directly or by attending the charity night or Ashover event, the details can be found by accessing the Facebook group listed or on the gofundme website.

LEJOGCC21


www.gofundme.com - 'search lejogcc21'


I can’t heap enough praise on Andy for his effort and wish him every success in June. Hopefully, we can catch up again later in the year and see how things went.

‘Per Terram’, by land as the Marines would say.




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