Dubai: UAE resident Sam Brenkel braved storms, flooding, theft and the threat of arrest, to complete a 5,000-km cycle, swim and kayak challenge from his native Scotland to Romania in 72 days, this week.
The 27-year-old Dubai-based programme manager cycled 1,500-km from John O’Groats in Scotland to Dover on the south coast of England in 12 days.
His 40-km swim from Dover to Calais in northern France was then abandoned 24-km in after eight hours, with 16-km to go, due to bad weather.
Unperturbed he cycled 735-km in nine days from Calais to Donaueshingen in Germany, which marks the start of the River Danube, along which he kayaked 2,860-km to the mouth of the Black Sea in 49 days.
He then came back and completed his English Channel swim in 12 hours on Saturday.
“The human body is capable of amazing things if pushed,” said Brenkel, who started on June 9 and finished on September 23 but came back to complete the swim on October 8. Although the challenge spanned fourth months, or 122 days, Brenkel was actually only active for 72 days with rest and training days in-between.
“Definitely anyone can do it, the challenge is more mental than physical, you just have to break things down into smaller daily targets rather than thinking about the bigger picture.”
Brenkel took up the challenge to raise funds and awareness for charitable groups Peas and Restless Development, who aid educational and youth-led community initiatives in Africa and Asia.
It was anything but straightforward — having his bike stolen in Dover and passport soaked in Germany.
He also capsized several times and saw his kayak swept away by overnight flooding. He also attracted the attention of police where the river is split between Croatia and Serbia on either side — and had all his things stolen before spending a night in a police station in Romania due to border issues.
Brenkel had previously cycled 3,800-km across North America, from Vancouver, Canada to Boston, USA, in 2012.
He now plans to swim 34-km from Santa Catalina to Palos Verdes off the coast of California, USA, next week in order to raise funds for Dubai-based charity the Maria Cristina Foundation, which raises funds and awareness for the disadvantaged in Dhaka, Bangladesh.