By Scott Mills
On the longest day of 2017, Weir Archer were set to attempt to make history by breaking a world record and having their names in the history books for years to come.
In order to achieve this feat, a team of cyclists alongside the clubs athletes would have to cover a mammoth distance of 13,000 miles to not only achieve the record but to also raise funds for the academy’s charity.
Whilst the cyclists would have to cycle 150 miles each from London to Brighton and back, the athletes would clock up over 250 miles around Richmond Park and the newly renovated Kingsmeadow athletics track.
However, as if covering the distance wasn’t going to be hard enough, the academy also would have to do this during the hottest day in 41 years.
To complete this distance before the cut off point at 10pm BST, it was an early start for the team with the cyclists John Warton, Pete Capell, Stuart, Joe Gallagher, Dom Short and Adrian Mann setting off from Box Hill, beginning their 150 mile round trip to Brighton and back.
Already by 8am, the temperature was already reaching well over a sweltering 20 degrees, as some of our athletes set off to get their challenge started in Richmond Park.
Followed closely by coach Jenny Archer in her legendary white Ford Fiesta and armed with a boot full of water, David Weir, JohnBoy Smith, Olivia Gallagher, Jamie Edwards, Sheikh Muhidin, Stuart Bloor, Eden Rainbow-Cooper and Graham Spencer began to tick off the miles.
Throughout the day, there was a glimmer of doubt whether this huge feat could be achieved but as the hours went by both the cyclists and the athletes were giving their all to make sure it was going to be made a reality.
Sweating alongside the team, were many parents, voluntary cyclists and supporters who were making sure the athletes were well hydrated and were in good health, whilst Archer was constantly providing the team with some inspiration.
With 55 miles worth of hard graft down and four hours later, the cyclists finally reached the coast and enjoyed a well earned break by having a quick lunch stop.
As time flew by so did the miles and it was almost time for the athletes to head to the track to continue their challenge as well as opening the newly renovated Kingsmeadow Athletics stadium.
Being the facility that both Archer and Weir had trained at for the majority of their careers, it was fitting that the pair were chosen to officially open the new track alongside the Mayor of Kingston.
Similarly, it was also fitting that they could be making even more history at a venue where they had trained for it many times before.
By now the challenge was in full flow, with parents, helpers and supporters all lending the athletes support, food and well-needed water- although most of the time it got spent being thrown over them!
With a relay routine of four athletes on the track at one time clocking up a certain distance before they swapped with other athletes, David Weir, Johnboy Smith, Stuart Bloor, Mo Jomni, Graham Spencer, Morgan Woods, Joe Tucker-Lawrence, Jabari Knight, Yasmin Somers, James Freeman, Olivia Gallagher, Sheikh Muhidin, Dillon Labrooy, Jamie Edwards, Stacey, Natasha Settelton, Martyna Snopek, Eden Rainbow-Cooper, Hilmy Shawwal, Matt Cooper, Sam Walkington, Jacob Kennedy and Xander Foster all showed extreme guts, dedication and determination to achieve this challenge.
Throughout the day, these athletes and our cyclists travelling back from Brighton had shown a tremendous attitude and work ethic and it was exceptional to see them all helping, motivating and supporting each other which really proved what the academy was about.
The family atmosphere and team work ethic that Archer and Weir had rooted into the academy was truly on show throughout the day and no matter how hard it got in the heat, the athletes all got together and helped each other overcome these challenges being thrown at them.
It was also great to see the 4th Tolworth Beavers and Cubs, Team Personal best and the Kingston Mayor and Council all down to lend their support alongside the many friends and families there that were amazing and hugely supportive yet again.
As tiredness and dehydration started to sink in as the heat intensified, physios Sue and Maz (who had generously dedicated their own time to help the athletes), were on hand to provide assistance as was Kirsty Bloor who was helping refuel everyone with her superb cakes!
Meanwhile, our cyclists were still on their way back to meet the athletes at the track for what would be a superb celebratory finale.
With athletes digging deep to get around the track and get the miles on their Garmins (generously given to us by the company), long-standing supporters of the academy, Natalie Osbourne and Radio Jackie were inspiring the guys with some great music and words of encouragement.
It was also great to have Jane Emerson from Get Kids Going! who has helped the athletes for many years as well as Emerson Grant.
But in true Weir Archer fashion, it wasn’t all plain sailing.
As the deadline approached there was a slight panic amongst the guys whilst Andrew Spencer, Kevin Woods, Gavin Labrooy and many other of the parents tried to work out our mile count.
Apparently our athletes were still 50 odd miles behind the target, and it was at this moment that something truly exceptional happened.
Most of the athletes, some of whom had done over 30 miles all got together and headed on the track to make sure they would break the record.
It was amazing to see the athletes all push themselves to their limits and work together as a team and the young athletes Natasha Settelton, Xander Foster, Jacob Kennedy and Sam Walkington were all unbelievably amazing especially with the amount of mileage they covered at such young ages.
Unable to get down to the track to help out, Club thrower Abbie Hunnisett still managed to contribute to the team by covering two miles in her day chair.
Finally as the sun began to lower, it turned out the athletes had smashed their challenge, covering a total of 361 miles as they eagerly awaited some celebratory laps of honour to break the record with the cyclists.
Not long after, the cyclists thundered through the Kingsmeadow gates and onto the track to an amazing atmosphere and round of applause from everybody who was supporting.
After months of dedicating their own time to help the academy and work extremely hard to train for this challenge, John Warton, Pete Capell, Stuart, Adrian Mann, Joe Gallagher, Dom Short finally completed their challenge and sealed a remarkably amazing achievement putting the academy in the record books.
Unsurprisingly Jenny Archer and David Weir had once again added another historical achievement to their already long list of remarkable achievements.
Not only did the day go fantastically well but the academy also managed to raise over £9,000 (close to £10,000), so we would like to thank everyone who donated, everyone who helped out and supported us on the day and of course to the athletes and cyclists who made this dream reality.
If you have been inspired by the story and would still like to donate you can do so on this link here: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/weirarcher.co.uk