Racing unicycles the length of Ireland for the Irish Injured Jockeys Fund: story of the 400-mile World Record breaking journey!
This summer Hector Chamberlain and Will Forsyth-Forrest will be racing unicycles from the southernmost point of Ireland to the northernmost, for the Irish Injured Jockeys Fund. The Mission of the IIJF is to make a real difference to the lives and welfare of jockeys, past and present and their families by raising funds to provide enhanced help, care and support. As two students in Dublin we have enjoyed some fantastic days racing across Ireland, and this challenge presents the perfect opportunity as race goers to give back to the sport in which jockeys risk life and limb.
If all goes to plan we will unicycle just under 400 miles in 11 days dressed in racing colours and break the world record! The idea will be to cover the majority of the route together, and races of different length each day to sort out the long-distance runners from the sprinters.
we really appreciate every donation, and will fund any costs ourselves so each and every penny will go to this brilliant charity.
If you would like to help us reach our ambitious target of €20,000, the link is here:
FINAL DAY - Day 11 - Redcastle - Malin Head, featuring the McPherson Racing Grand National (in Charles O'Reilly's and James Chamberlain's colours)
With only 20 miles to go we got up at 5 in the morning, with the aim to arrive Malin in time for a good pub lunch.
The early unicyclist catches the empty roads and we flew the first 15, running our final race, the 4 mile McPherson Racing Grand National. Graeme McPherson and his owners have been extremely generous in helping us get closer to our fundraising target of 20,000euro and we are so appreciative. The race itself was competitive as ever, but it was to be Will's day who probably ends the tour the more mobile of the pair, Hector resembling a unicycling Cosimodo boxing southpaw.
With a pint waiting at the top we tackled the final stretch up a very decent slope.
Despite their views of the spectacular Donegal coastline being ruined by two sweaty unicyclists, the crowd got behind us and cheered us on ringing cow bells right to the line, creating a brilliant atmosphere.
We have set a new World Record for the fastest time to unicycle from Mizen to Malin, in a time of 10 days and 2 hours, beating the previous record by James Twomey by 2 days and 6 hours.
Handshakes done and it was to the Seaview Bar with family and friends alike for a cremmy pint of Guiness and an unbelievable steak. One that will last long in the memory.
A huge thank you to everyone that has supported us in what has been a hugely enjoyable couple of weeks, and in what has more importantly raised lots of money for the Irish Injured Jockeys, a brilliant charity which received so much praise up and down the country from all walks of life.
Day 10 - Newtonstewart - Redcastle, featuring the Pery-Knox-Gore Derby
The last 40-miler of the trip. Speed is low but mood is high. We crossed from Northern Ireland back into the Republic in the town of Muff, apparently famous for its diving team.
Car beepage was particularly high today with long stretches on main roads going to and coming out of Derry.
Will's shortcut definitely cut the distance by about a mile but probably added an hour onto the day as we tackled some savage hills. We were told that we would have to walk the unicycle up certain hills in Ireland but we have actually managed to ride them every yard of the way, even if it meant zig-zagging up some slopes!
As chief hill climber, Hector took Will to town during the Pery-Knox-Gore Derby, named after the mighty family from Mayo, fittingly leaving the unicycle series level at 4 apiece with the Grand National to come on the last day.
An exciting penultimate day topped off by steak and spuds at a mates grandparents house.
20 miles to go !
Unreal to have the backing of AP McCoy. As someone who overcame serious injury time and again, it is motivating to have his support as we push on these last few days. 60 miles to go!
Day 9 - Enniskillen - Newtonstewart, the Rupert Barrington 'I thought any donkey could race on the beach' Stakes
It has been noted by Hector's parents that Will FF is probably the better unicyclist by now. As he glides like a swan, the now crippled Hector resembles a tic-tac man with tourettes even on the smoothest of roads. Had he not zig-zagged about the road for the last few days he may well have finished by now.
Whipped on by the parents who are keen for a good feed and a drink having driven 10 hours at 6mph the day before, we cut out the power naps and actually had a really productive day. Wheel spinning at 9am and finished by 5.30pm, a great result.
Our race today was sponsored by Rupert Barrington who when his horse was balloted out of Deauville, famously said to his trainer, "I thought any donkey was allowed to race on the beach."
Miles covered - 340
Hector 3, Will 4
Day 8 - Mohill - Enniskillen, featuring the Limerick Racecourse Novice Steeplechase
Top feed once again at Bridgehouse Stud and an early morning swim to kick proceedings off.
A 36-miler ahead, this time joined by Hector's parents (behind the wheel, not on one.) They had an immediate impact by stocking up on vet wrap, kindly donated by the Brook Vet in Rosorry.
With the miles just about knocked off and our entry into Northern Ireland, we crammed the car with the unicycles and set off for Leopardstown for the Bulmers Live evening meeting there.
We really enjoyed an interview with the character that is Kevin O'Ryan of Racing TV. Some fantastic exposure which was well-received by the crowds who gave us a great hand as we managed to complete a lap of the ring without stacking it this time, and even managed to get Kevin up on one himself!
Very kind hospitality from Leopardstown who fed us up ready for the final push.
90 miles to go.
Day 7 - Ballymahon - Mohill, featuring the Catalyst Capital Chase
Brilliant feed at Bridgehouse and a speedy start to the day. We took on some hefty rain in the morning which provided for some heavy going in the afternoon.
Inevitably things are getting more sore for us. An attempt to take the backroads as a shortcut to Mohill proved painful at times and we reckon if you put potholes in the right place in the road you could get quite a good tune out of us with all of the oof and ows.
We are stopping more often now for a good stretch and hobble and actually find it easier to move about like John Cleese in his ministry for silly walks.
Today's race was sponsored by the hugely generous Catalyst Capital, a real estate private equity fund who excel in a highly competitive world. Our racing remains hard-fought and closer than ever. We are trying out and learning new race tactics each day. Will's attempts to slipstream were effective at first but didn't allow for much foresight, as he found when Hector swerved a pothole last minute and left Will to crash out behind.
Day 6 - Taylors Cross - Ballymahon, featuring the Bridgehouse Stud Cross Country race
Class evening had over at David Baker's near Birr, Co. Tipperary. First pasta night beforehand and pistons firing ready for the second last 40-miler.
A big pub lunch left us in need of a power nap which went on too long and had us facing the last 20 miles at around 1630.
We saw our first tantrum of the trip as Hector threw a sulk when he couldn't get going on his unicycle. It resulted in the unicycle being hurled into the top of a bramble bush. Using the other unicycle as a slasher we were in the process of recovering it, at which point Willie Burns, who we had met that day at breakfast, came across us on his way home from work. With the unicycle salvaged and tantrum complete, Willie very kindly went ahead to get some mars bars and coffees.
Stayed the night at Bridgehouse Stud with Trevor Badger near Mullingar, home of Cappella Sansevero, Strath Burn, Caricello, Let the Lion Roar, and Sirillio. https://bridgehousestudireland.com
Trevor knows how to produce athletes and still in equine mode, chucked us in the river for recovery, epsom salts in the bath, buscapan with our cornflakes and is getting the bute ready for later.
Photos and update of the race to come this evening...
Day 5 - Birdhill - Taylors Cross, featuring the Prix de l'Arc de Birr Castle Dairy
Strange day today but it seemed to work out. We took too long in the morning and the wheel only started to spin at 11am. We had finished the 45 miles at 10pm.
We had our fair share of moguls to take on around the backroads going into North Tipperary. A touch of wd40 and the knees are still in tact.
Despite the slow start we enjoyed a good power nap at a truckers layby around lunch time and cracked out the miles with the help of Reece who has done his last day. Surprised he stuck it out so long, 190 miles at 6mph has finally cooked him and he's off up north. Cheers Reece.
More to follow...
Day 4 - Kilmallock - Birdhill, featuring the Cecil Law Stakes (in Gigginstown and JP McManus's Colours)
Another 40 miler again today. Great stay in Kilmallock at The Old Stand, though it was difficult making it down the stairs in the morning, we are still waiting to hear back from Stannah Stairlift for sponsorship.
Had a fantastic day at Limerick Racecourse today. We met some of the lads who were very supportive of the whole idea of unicycling, though wary about giving it a go themselves. Their doubts were confirmed as Donnacha O'Brien damaged his wedding tackle getting up on one.
We had our first (we hope of many) person come to join us today, Mr Twomey, who was the first and last person to unicycle the length of Ireland. He put in a great shift and was very keen for us to beat his record.
The Cecil Law stakes was a 2 mile race run in memory of Hectors late grandfather, an avid racegoer who would escape school to go racing. A competitive affair which was hard fought to the end until Hector got the speed wobbles on the homestretch and stacked it going down into Birdhill. It seems that the home advantage Will had in JP's colours saw him through.
Belter of the day - The Passenger, Iggy Pop
Horns honked: 14
Hector 1, Will 2
Day 3 - Millstreet - Kilmallock, featuring the GOFFS Supreme Novice hurdle (in McPherson Racing Club and Tyrone for Sam's colours)
A 39-miler today kicked off with a swim in the river and a SPAR breakfast roll. Great time meeting plenty of locals last night , the car honkage was mega coming out of town. Twice, kind people reading and overtaking the car had gone ahead to their homes and brought out cups of tea. One lad being driven along handed a tenner out the window over to us as we were unicycling , a great gesture.
We sit pretty well in the saddle now, holding one hand on the seat and hailing a cab with the other.
Despite Hector's best efforts to test Will's balance, a banger wasn't enough to unseat the rider, however a banana skin proved too much.
The race today was very kindly sponsored by GOFFS bloodstock sales who welcomed us last week to have a look around their stunning set up.
2 mi 1/2f . Hector quick out the blocks again but Will was held up by the roadworks man despite mid-race explanations . A comeback looked on the cards at times but wasn't to be. Void race .
Belter of the day - I'm shipping up to Boston by the Dropkick Murphys
Horns honked : 39
Flies swallowed : 4
Hector 1, Will 1
Day 2 - Drimoleague - Millstreet, featuring the Clara Inn Chase (in Burr & Dudwell Racing's and Laura Day's colours)
It was the longest day today provided we don't get lost in the future. Knocked the 41 miles on the head. Entertaining day all in all.
Big hand for Reece who was behind the wheel for 10 hours covering the mighty 41mi. He has written 'world record attempt' on his bonnet as promo for us but it loses context when we're not about. He had a look into what record he might be able to beat on the way. Apparantely the fastest time to drive from Mizen to Malin only in first gear was completed in just under 24 hours so that one is out the window now.
Reece's only mishap so far has been to run over Hectors phone which fell out his pocket. Repair shop was nearby.
The race today was very kindly sponsored by the Clara Inn, Millstreet. Prime Irish Beef and veg went down a treat.
3 miler. A hard fought race, knees were smoking. Hector got off to a flyer this time and left Will in his wake. He set a good pace and would have won by a fair distance had he not taken the wrong course in town. Screams of match fixing.
Locals loved it.
Belter of the day - Nessaja by Scooter
Horns honked - 78
Hector 1, Will 1
Day 1 - Mizen Head - Drimoleague, featuring the An Síbín Pub Derby (in Sue Howell, and DL & JA Adams colours)
Got the required 33.5 miles under our belts today. Southernmost point of Ireland upto Drimoleague, still in Co. Cork. No intentions to disappoint but everything went fairly smoothly !
Great drive down to the start with Reece at the helm. Tunes were pumping, a bit of Natasha Bedingfield to get us in the zone.
Enjoyed being sent off by the carpenters working down there and Wills grandparents. We had hoped to accumulate a bit of a Forrest Gump crowd behind us and still do, but for now we will have to settle for the flies. Bad smells all round, is it burning unicycle rubber or the breakfast baked beans.
We deleted a few of the hills near the start and the day got flatter. We've been told that Ireland is like a saucepan: high at the sides, and low and flat in the middle.
Great encouragement hearing so many horns, good from a Twingo, better from a Trucker.
Despite the reputation, Ireland has produced a scorcher today. Will, a longtime sufferer from the Devils Itch, taking the brunt of the Cork Tropics. Reece has managed to get himself a good tan, albeit a Truckers tan on just the one arm.
We had our first race today, kindly sponsored by the An Síbín Pub in Baltimore - recommend the sirloin and chips. Many thanks to Mrs Sue Howell (Will) and DL and JA Adams (Hector), kind donors of their colours and to the IIJF. 1mi 4f, the same length as the Irish Derby run at the Curragh on Saturday. Unlike that race which saw the frontrunner cruise to victory, the early leader Will got distracted by his own shadow and stacked it coming into Drimoleague, leaving Hector with the job of staying on until the finish post, a task made easier by Reece having lined up a coldun at the Drimoleague Inn.
Tight squeeze into the VW Polo. Three unicycles, support kit and Reece's booster seat.
Belter of the day: American Pie - Don McLean
Horns honked: 34
Will: 0 , Hector: 1
Message of support from Davy Russell !
It was fantastic to meet the legendary Davy Russell at the Tattersalls sales. Twice Grand National winner with the pocket rocket Tiger Roll. He was a busy man but a great supporter of the charity and very happy to help out. A Cork man himself he wished us luck with the hills early on. Thanks very much Davy !
Couple of big training days down in Kinsale, Co. Cork
Arrived in Kinsale down South on the Sunday evening, 30-miler on the Monday and a 40-miler on the Tuesday. All good confidence boosters.
Started both with a bowl of porridge and a full Irish.
32" unicycles seem to be doing the trick, we overtook a few runners which was exciting but sadly no cyclists. Shoutout to Unicycle.com
Starting to get recognised around the area (see below.) Getting a good reception from most of the traffic we hold up, Will has worked out it's really cool to give the thumbs up rather than the traditional palm thank you.
Our support driver for at least the first three days has arrived, big Reece Somerville from Armagh, a TCD mate. He has been driving ambulances all summer and so is the man for the job.
We rested up all Wednesday before the wheel gets spinning at Mizen Head. B&B stay in Baltimore kindly sponsored by Irish Thoroughbred Marketing.
All three of us had an unreal steak and chips at the Síbín Pub in Baltimore. Linda behind the bar was a class act and was delighted to sponsor our first race tomorrow.
Pictures and a video of training below !