Big wheel, big challenge

Posted: April 8, 2014 by kirisyko in SykOtic
Tags: , ,

James Cracknell London Eye

Designed to inspire people to set their own goals, the Duracell challenge James undertook had to be completed over the duration of one rotation of the London Eye. Photograph:

He has run across the Sahara, rowed the Atlantic, cycled across the Arctic and won two Olympic gold medals. As one of Britain’s most celebrated endurance athletes, James Cracknell is not easily fazed. But he had to try some new moves when he took on Duracell’s “Wheel of Endurance”, performing six separate, intense challenges in a capsule on the EDF Energy London Eye.

Designed to inspire people to set their own goals, the Duracell challenge had to be completed over the duration of one rotation of the wheel. Cracknell reached new endurance heights above the heart of London, taking on cycling, running, gym ball balancing, boxing, a high-intensity leg workout and a training circuit inspired by the Duracell Bunny.

“It was a great mixture of stuff – and not the usual training I do, apart from the cycling and running,” says Cracknell. “I had to use muscles I don’t usually use, which was great, if challenging – particularly when balancing on the gym ball – but I got better. And getting better at something new is what I love.

“The whole thing took three hours, working at really high intensity – and it was tough. Basically, my endurance is good, but my co-ordination and speed are bad.”

These humble words come from an athlete whose stellar career as a professional rower saw him scoop six world championship titles as well as the Olympic golds. Since his retirement from rowing, the 41-year-old has performed a variety of jaw-dropping endurance challenges in far-flung locations.

“I love a challenge and having something to plan for,” he says. “And it’s a lesson for life: in everything, whether it’s working, studying or in your relationship, if you get into a lazy routine, you need to change it.

“And it’s so important to stay healthy. I am lucky to have three kids, and part of why I do the endurance stuff now is because my heart and lungs will be healthier in 10 or 15 years’ time. It’s about getting the most out of life and increasing your chance of health.”

James Cracknell - The Wheel of Endurance 134533British Olympic athlete James Cracknell OBE takes on the Wheel of Endurance. Photograph:’s health is something he no longer takes for granted. It’s just over three years since he was almost killed by a lorry on the cycling leg of a cross-USA challenge. The vehicle’s wing mirror hit his head, crushing his helmet, and leaving him with severe head injuries including a fractured skull and damage to his frontal lobe. He was left in a coma and his wife (TV and radio presenter Beverley Turner) was told she had 48 hours to say goodbye.

But Cracknell battled back with his trademark determination: “It’s been tough, but I do feel really good. The brain injury left me with epilepsy, and I’m a slightly different person to the one my wife married. I have no sense of taste or smell; I can only appreciate food for texture, so I eat strange combinations of things which the kids find amusing.

“But I’m moving on: after three years of Bev being a taxi service for me and the kids, I’ve just got my driving licence back, which is brilliant. I’m determined not to be defined by one second of one day in 2010, just like the way my life was never defined by being a sportsman. It was something I did, not who I am.”

And Cracknell agrees that his amazing recovery must be down, in part, to his grit and positivity. “It is all about your attitude. There are a lot of dream-stealers in this country. Everyone finds a reason for you not to do something. For example, if you’re going to set up a business, people will tell you it will fail within three years. Listen to the glass ceilings other people put on you – but don’t accept them.

“I’m lucky enough to have had the chance to look at my life in a different way and decide that I will appreciate things I’ve taken for granted a bit more – and that, actually, I can do a bit better.”

And it’s a life lesson that Cracknell wants to pass on. “It sounds simplistic, but it is so true: plot your path and go about achieving it. You will amaze yourself.”

Test your endurance

You don’t have to go to the Sahara or the Arctic to test your stamina. Here are some simple endurance challenges you can try at home …

Dancefloor duration
Next time you’re out on the town, count how many songs in a row you can throw shapes at on the dancefloor before you start to flag.

Walk the walk
Spend seven hours a day sitting down at work? Get out at lunch and find out how long you can pound the pavement for. Can you walk at your top speed for the whole 60 minutes?

Garden go-getter
Garden overgrown? Lawn need mowing? See how long you can keep your green fingers on the go before retiring to the sunlounger.

To make a start on achieving your ambition, visit the Duracell Facebook page where you can share your goals and get support from the Duracell community.

Set your goals

The longest lasting battery powers the longest lasting challenges. You can watch James Cracknell complete the “Wheel of Endurance” challenge at

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