CaptureEXERCISE proved to be out of this world for students after they cycled and ran to the international space station.

Year 7, 8, 9 and 10 students from Darlington School of Mathematics and Science learned what it was like to train like an astronaut as part of the Space to Earth Challenge, marking the Tour de Yorkshire cycle race as they went.

They spent the day with the British Triathlon Trust and Teesside University officials taking it in turns to ride static bikes for two minutes and run around the sports hall.

The aim was to travel the equivalent distance of Darlington to the space station, which orbits the Earth at about 400km.

As the only school in Darlington taking part in the initiative, they were wished good luck in their venture by astronaut Tim Peake.

Martin Allen, of the British Triathlon Trust, said: “We got a call last night and it was Tim ringing from the space station. He is so impressed with the challenge that he wanted to wish you good luck today.”

Students heard that astronauts have to exercise for at least two hours a day to prevent the zero gravity damaging muscle mass and bone density. Tim even ran the equivalent of the London Marathon, completing the distance in just over three hours.

Outreach manager for Teesside University Gary Crawley said the opportunity was also being linked to the weekend’s Tour de Yorkshire race from Nunthorpe to Scarborough.

“It has been a great way to promote the benefits of exercise, raise aspirations and confidence levels among young people,” he said.

DSMS sports teacher Mike Hillary added: “The students have had a taste of what it is like to train like an astronaut and, after witnessing the effort they put into the challenge, have done the school proud.

“The project really captured their imagination and I am sure the impact will last for a long time to come.”