FORMER Special Forces soldier Craig Haslam is hoping to raise £100,000 for charity – and to set a new world record – by cycling the shoreline of the UK.
The 45-year-old father of two teenagers from Whitley Bay will cover the equivalent of almost 250 miles a day – burning up 10,000 calories for every one of the 17-day challenge.
Craig was medically discharged after a 27-year military career in 2015 when he sustained life-changing injuries after being knocked off his bike by a car.
He was treated by the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre (DMRC) and wants of the 50% of the £100,000 to be used to provide mini-buses to ferry recovering military personnel to and from the centre in Loughborough.
As a former surfer and stand-up paddle boarder, he is donating the other 50% of the proceeds to Surfers Against Sewage (SAS).
Craig expects to be cycling 15 hours a day for the duration of the 4,219 mile trek round the mainland, using A and B roads. He starts at the beginning of June, from the iconic Tyne Bridge, Newcastle, on a circular route which will not cross any road twice.
“It will be case of eat, sleep, ride, and repeat,” says Craig. “I’ll be using up 10,000 calories a day; it’s impossible to eat enough to replace that.”
“I know my body can cope with it, at the moment the hardest part of the training is to get myself to slow down. I normally cycle at a speed of about 20 miles an hour, but I’m working on slowing that down during the charity ride.”
There is no official world record for such an achievement as the previous best, achieved in 1984 by Nick Saunders, was eradicated but Craig hopes GPS tracking will legitimise his achievement.
The cycling accident left Craig with complicated brain injuries including; vertigo, nausea, poor memory, a lack of concentration, one-dimensional vision and round-the-clock headaches.
He also sustained additional injuries including to his arms, shoulders and knees, but remains staunchly upbeat.
“I joined the forces on leaving school at 17 and said at the time I would stay in as long as I was happy and enjoyed it.
“After 16 years in the Royal Marines and a further 10 in the Special Forces I was still enjoying it but the accident left me with little choice, and rather than mope about, I started on a new chapter in my life.”
Craig has recently set up a new business D3A Defence advising businesses on the best way to win equipment contracts with the Armed Forces.
His sponsors include North East ecco, national law firm Irwin Mitchell
and sustainable sportswear company Presca Teamwear. Dorset company Breeze Volkswagen are loaning a camper van and car for his support team. The bikes are supported by Cannondale and tracking for the event will be provided by Garmin.
His support team includes wife Emmajo, an excellent cook and Eco Consultant, who makes regular TV and radio appearances.
Both have a passion to rid the planet of single use plastics and at the end of every day they will spend two minutes on a beach clean.
Craig said: “As someone who has spent a lifetime outdoors, particularly in the water, I am all too aware of the state of our environment.
“It is so important to do what we can to protect our seas from plastic and as, a no-nonsense, plain-speaking grassroots marine conservation charity, SAS is perfectly positioned to do this.
“My family and I have supported this charity for over 15 years.”
To sponsor Craig and support the two charities follow this link to his AB Sea 2019 Cycle Challenge page; https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-display/showROFundraiserPage?userUrl=ABSea2019&pageUrl=1