ARCH TO ARC ENDUROMAN CHALLENGE
6TH SEPTEMBER - 11TH SEPTEMBER 2008
Star - Tom Beaver
Co-star and chief supporter - Joanne Beaver
Long suffering parents - James and Hilary Beaver
Long suffering parents-in-law from Dubai -Bob and Anne Curtis
Brother and boat support crew - Henry Beaver
Brother and telephonist - Sam Beaver
Aunt, (also mother of Blake Hartley,) Chief phone-recharger and paparazzi – Sally Perrin
Uncle and groupie - David Perrin
Cousin, MacDonald’s breakfast supplier and model of sponsorship kit - Stephanie Perrin
Adopted family member, wife and 11 week old baby - Vernon, Nicky and Charlie Smith
Gordonstoun New Zealander friend and expert van driver - Guy Jolly
Gordonstoun friends and Camera crew - Stu and Pebbs Turnbull
Camera crew - Gemma Caldwell
Camera crew - Katherine Hodgkinson (Podge)
Friend and doctor – Hamish Reid
Nutritionalist - John Limpus (Urban Vitality Company)
Guitarist and head masseuse - Simon Limpus
30 mile runner and friend - Greg Wilkie
Prospective 6th Endurowoman and observer – Clare Smith
Enduroman number 4, trainer and invigilator - Steve Haywood
Locations – Marble Arch, London, to Dover, the English Channel, Calais to Paris, France
RUNNING BEAVER MAKES IT TO DOVER IN THE ARCH TO ARC CHALLENGE
(Report for the Shropshire Star)
Despite appalling weather conditions, torrential rain, wind, and fog, Tom Beaver completes the first leg of his triathlon in aid of Missing People. He set off from Marble Arch London on Saturday at 1.15 pm and ran through the night the 86 miles all the way to Dover arriving at 10.30 am, finishing the first part of his challenge on target in 21 hours 15 mins, keeping him in sight of breaking the record for this monumental event. The average for this part of the journey is 26 hours. He was supported by a superb team of medics, masseurs, nutritionalists, family and friends all working in harmony, most of the time!! Tom had one or two difficult moments when he hit the proverbial wall, but with due care and support pushed his way through and after resting is now gearing himself up for the big swim. He is planning on starting this at around 4.00 am on the early tide. It is estimated to take around 20 hours. He will have a team assisting him in the support boat with people who will feed him and water him as he swims through to France. Worsening weather conditions will again challenge Tom to the extremes of human endeavour before he completes the final leg with a cycle ride from Calais to L’Arc de Triomphe in Paris.
THE FAMILY SEND OFF AT MARBLE ARCH
During the run, at one of the pit-stops, the support team were approached by a gentleman who asked what was happening, Steve Haywood, who has been Tom’s trainer and who is the invigilating the event tried to explain what Tom was attempting. It took Steve a good 20 minutes to convince the gentleman Tom could do it as he thought that such an event was humanly and physically impossible!
IN THE RAIN MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT
Tom’s wife Joanne said “The support for Tom has been fantastic, my parents have even flown over from Dubai and the encouragement from our friends and family from all over the UK has been incredible.”
TOM BEING FOLLOWED BY JOANNE, HIS WIFE AND STEPH HIS COUSIN
NEARLY IN DOVER
Tom has already raised over £5,000 through sponsorship for the charity Missing People as this charity is very close to his heart after his cousin Blake Hartley went missing in 2004. His target is £10,000 so if anybody would like to donate to this very worthy cause they can log on to the website Just Giving; any amount is greatly appreciated as every little could help those people who have had a loved one who has gone missing.
FINISHING HIS RUN IN DOVER
THE BRAVEST SWIM EVER
(Another report for the Shropshire Star)
PREPARATIONS UNDER WAY AT DOVER SIGN ON SHAKESPERE BEACH
HIS DAD, JAMES SHAKING TOM’S HAND BEFORE THE EPIC SWIM
Tom made landfall this morning at 1.15am after a 20 hours 44 min swim! He has just arrived for breakfast saying his hands and feet and mouth/throat are the worst for wear - because of all the salt he swallowed. He has had a couple of hours sleep and after a light breakfast will be on his bike heading for Paris - should take 15 - 20 hours.
Quote from Tom "I'm knackered!" - Too tired to say any more. Anne, his mother-in-law is putting plasters on his feet so he can get his shoes on! His trainer, Steve Haywood is giving him advice, he probably won't be breaking the record because of having to swim against the tide for 3-4 hours when he was only 2 miles off shore but the wind and tide were against him , but whatever time he completes this mammoth task in, it is still an amazing achievement. As he got off the boat last night i.e. 3 this morning, he was saying "OK, a couple of hours sleep, breakfast 7 o'clock and on the bike for 8am!" Phew, what a man, I really would not have believed it possible if I had not seen it for myself.
We were up at 3.0 yesterday morning, walked 3 miles in the dark across a very pebbly Shakespeare beach to wave him au revoir as he swam ashore from the boat to touch land in order to start the swim, almost 24 hours later, we were running around Calais like headless chickens for 2 or 3 hours trying to establish where he would be making landfall, eventually after another 5 mile walk across the beach this time, in the dark, clutching a kettle with hot water in and 2 mugs and packets of coffee, by sheer chance Stu Turnbull (the expedition doctor,) heard him splashing in the water trying to stand up and there was this very shell shocked seal-suited swimmer staggering upright with a very dazed expression on his face. After an 87 mile run, it is unbelievable to think that he could then have swum for 21 hours!
Steve Haywood said "Tom was pushed east of Calais harbour which added a further mile onto his swim route, he got less than 100 meters to the beach then the tide suddenly turned and Tom was unable to make it to the beach, so he had to swim back out round the harbour wall, back out to sea adding a further one mile onto his swim. The man is true legend! I am eagerly awaiting Enduroman number 5 to reach Paris!"
MAKING LANDFALL ON CALAIS BEACH
THE CHANNEL SWIM - BOB’S ACCOUNT
After his run long run down from London to Dover Tom took some well earned rest whilst he waited for the right tide to start his swim across one of the busiest sea routes in the world. At this stage he was unsure when he would be expected to go, it could be around 11.30 at night or more probably 04.30 in the morning.
After a visit to the pilot boat skipper Neil, Arch to Arc invigilator Steve confirmed it was all go for 04.30 with Tom and his support crew to be at Dover Port at 03.30. With the hope of a reasonable crossing as the weather did not look good later on in the week. The team duly turned up, Tom with is support group led by Joanne and elder brother Henry plus camera team were soon loaded onto the pilot boat ready for the short trip round to Shakespeare Bay for the off. The expression on Tom’s face during this short but very rough trip said it all, if this is what it is like close to shore what it is going to be like when I am out in the shipping channels. Undeterred and never a person to shrink from any challenge thrown at him Tom was in the water for his short swim to the shore. He was back in the water at 04.31 and off on what he hoped to be a swim of 16 to 18 hours.
Not to be out done the run support team decided they were going to have a dip but lasted no longer than it took Tom to swim back out to the pilot boat. On the boat numerous seasick pills were taken but there were still green faces amongst Steve and the support team, how were they going to keep the man going with everyone afraid to go below take to prepare Tom’s sustenance. This initially was taken on by Henry, who must be made of good stuff.
Tom’s making good progress 3 hours and 6 miles under his belt in what was some very extreme conditions so much so that when feeding Tom the list on the boat was so great Steve could actually hand him food. The feeding regime has been changed and the solids dropped as Tom was having difficulty keeping them down so from now on in its liquids and jelly.
The man is absolutely amazing how he can continue to swim through these seas he just keeps on going. 12 hours in and only 6 miles to go however Tom has proved is human and has slowed up slightly but after some encouraging words from Steve to tell him that the tide has changed and he will need to put in a burst, for a couple of hours, the man has up his stroke rate to over 56 a minutes more than he has been doing for the past 12, what a guy!
With the tide being so strong Tom has been keeping up this increased stroke rate but now not making the progress expected and a little obstacle in his way. Ah well we will just need to swim back and round the oil tanker. No complaints and Tom takes in his stride or should that be stroke. Must keep up the pace or face a 12 hour swim rather than the 6 expected.
18 hours or so in and now around a mile offshore and moving forward very slowly, a decision has been made to try to go round the harbour wall and east end of Calais. Tom will need to up his pace, tell him and he is off stroke rate up around 60 with brother Henry shouting encouragement, he must be keeping Calais awake. The channel must be thinking to itself what more can be done to make this man work a little more, a little change in the tide that’ll do. After not getting far enough east undeterred Tom change’s course and head towards Calais beach, along the way he fights off a couple of ferries and eventually he is around 400 meters offshore.
One last push and he will be there. Henry has been busy navigating family and friends along the beach to await the landing, Tom is off, no doubt tired, but as ever pushing to the limits Steve has decided that he will ride the waves with the great man. The eagle has landed – what are we going to do tomorrow?
COMING INTO CALAIS HARBOUR
COMING ASHORE IN CALAIS HARBOUR
BEING HELPED UP THE STEPS BY HIS DAD, JAMES AND STU THE DOCTOR/CAMERA CREW
NOT A PRETTY SIGHT AFTER 20 HOURS IN THE WATER, BUT A WELCOME ONE!
On setting foot in France, or should it be wheels, the first thing that happened was our van was stopped by the customs police, but having assured them we didn't have a van full of illegal immigrants they let us go, though they did role their eyes as we tried to explain exactly what we were doing. This was beginning to be a bit of a theme with the journey. We had already been stopped by the British police when we were walking back along Shakespeare beach in Dover at 4.30 in the morning, having wished Tom ‘Au revoir’ and ‘Bon Chance’ as he began his epic swim. The ‘boys in blue’ clearly thought a bunch of illegal immigrants had just landed though why they would have left 4 rather nice cars in the car park had obviously escaped their notice!
We drew into Calais town and rather optimistically booked one room in the Holiday Inn – later taking over most of the hotel at various times of the night and day driving the poor staff mad with our nocturnal capers. Dumping the van we regrouped into two cars and set off on Vernon’s magical mystery tour of France – I swear he has some very interesting settings on his Sat Nav that are very different to the rest of the world! Anyway, the quest was for food, but surprisingly at 2.0’ish and for the rest of the afternoon all we could find was a wonderful artisan boulangerie, which had the best prune flan in the world, something that Tom, even in his appalling state after the swim was able to appreciate. We trundled around and around the countryside in the region of Calais, called in at Eurocity to stock up on food for the support van and so that the “Silverback” ie James our “Alpha-male” could have a quick snooze, and then we went back to the hotel.
More rooms were hired and we tried to sleep – not possible – too many phone calls and texts coming in, and interruptions from Commander Smith who wanted to sus out the landing possibilities – we thought sleep was more important – little did we know! So giving up after we heard that a landing was imminent, we made our very sleepy way to the beach, via a visit to the Stu and Podge’s car who had been on various recee’s in the neighbourhood and had tried to sleep in the car – at one point being checked out by the gendarmes who clearly thought a car without steamy windows wasn’t worth further investigation, so had left them alone with a Gallic shrug and a “zee crazy British, huh!”
We then discovered that Tom was not coming in there at all but nearer to Dunkirk, so back into the vehicle and away to go, easier said than done – could we find this other beach, no. We went up and down every road around the ferry port, with endless landmarks being given to us from the boat, none of which seem to tally with what we could see, grain silos, smoke billowing forth, boats being filled with grain, somehow we just couldn’t make sense of it at all.
WHAT WE WERE SUPPOSED TO BE ABLE TO SEE WHERE HE FINALLY CAME ASHORE
At this point the gendarmes made another surprise appearance, cars and vans with blue lights flashing screeched up behind us, scaring us all half to death, but disappointingly - lets face it, we could have done with some help never mind an escort, they weren’t interested in us and flew off in another direction. We nipped down the auto route halfway to Dunkirk but still no joy, so we went back to the first beach on the other side of Calais where we had been earlier. James switched his headlamps on and faced out to sea flashing them on and off, why the gendarmes never picked that up then we will never know, we couldn’t have been behaving more suspiciously if we had tried! Stu disappeared off along the harbour wall to find a good camera angle and Vernon arrived with a kettle filled with boiling water, 2 mugs and some instant coffee for Podge and Stu which we ended up carrying 5 miles down the beach in our quest to find Tom.
The rest of us bar Anne, who wisely stayed in the car even though she was mobbed by some eastern Europeans at one point, set off across the beach. It was so dark, we could hardly see more than two yards in front of us and we still didn’t know if we were heading the correct direction. At one point, Vernon being a little too over excited and bit too ex-army’ish for our liking, nearly had Podge and me in tears as he suddenly bellowed at top voice down the beach for everyone to “STOP and regroup and where the hell was Stu?” To be fair we were probably being a tad silly as we had no idea if there was quicksand ahead, obstacles, or anything in fact, and we should have kept together, but I guess our burning desire to find Tom and with our adrenalin levels running high we just kept walking as fast as we could into the unknown. Over the mobiles, on those whose batteries had not died (another common theme of the expedition,) we could hear Henry in particular, shouting hoarsely at Tom over and over “Come on Tom, you are nearly there, come on Tom!” but with all the multitude of lights out at sea we had no idea which belonged to the support boat.
Miraculously, and trust me it had to be a miracle at this point, Stu suddenly shouted “I can hear a swimmer!” But how could we know even if it was Tom, it could have been some other unsuspecting swimmer who would have unexpectedly been greeted by a camera crew and anxious family thundering down the beach towards them – what a fright he may have had. But fortunately it was Tom. He staggered from the waves, dazed and exhausted, his dad, James went into help him stand upright and shake his hand. We had never so relieved in all our lives to see him. He had made it and he was safe at last. Steve had swum the last few yards alongside and was there too. I managed to take a few photos – the only ones ever to be taken of the landing French side – hardly surprising considering how incredibly difficult it was to locate him – the camera crew didn’t even have chance to rev their cameras up before he had to swim back to the boat to be taken round to the little harbour in Calais.
Afterwards we strode back across the beach – still clutching the kettle and the mugs with the coffee never drunk – and made our way back to the cars and then to the harbour. We stood at the top of the steps hardly believing that he had made it, and not realizing at that moment how arduous it had been for him, we were to learn of that later. Tom could barely stand never mind walk and had to be helped up the steps and into the car. He looked as though he done a hundred rounds in the boxing ring his face was so swollen and distorted and despite all that he was already saying “A couple of hours sleep, breakfast at 7.0, and on the bike by 8.30!”
We arrived at the hotel again demanding even more rooms and dashed upstairs to run a bath for Tom. He sat on the bed with a blanket over his shoulders being checked over by Stu in his role as doctor this time instead of camera crew. Tom managed to eat a little French flan but found it almost impossible as his throat was so damaged by the vast quantity of salt he had inadvertently consumed. We then departed from his room leaving Stu and Joanne to bathe him and put him to bed. We were all so delighted that he had succeeded in the most challenging leg of this event, especially when you consider so many others had failed.
TRYING TO ENJOY THE FAMOUS PRUNE FLAN
THE BEAVER BIG BIKE RIDE
(Yet another report for the Shropshire Star)
Amazingly, after only 2 hours sleep, hallucinations, and nightmares, Tom was downstairs trying very hard to eat breakfast. His mouth, throat and oesophagus was so sore and ulcerated from the vast amount of salt water he had consumed he was finding in almost impossible to swallow any food or drink at all. His mother-in-law, Anne was trying to dress the enormous blisters he had on his feet and he was too stiff and sore to walk properly, but none of this was daunting Tom; eager to get on that bike with wire thin wheels and start pedalling towards Paris. Fortunately the weather was holding for him, the sun was shining and the support crew, though almost as exhausted as Tom were packed and ready for the long day and night ahead.
After a bit of a wobbly start, Tom soon picked up a sterling pace, helmeted head down, legs pumping furiously he, the support van, camera crew and 2 family vehicles flew through the rolling, rural French countryside, all doing their best to negotiate the French roads and trying hard (but not always succeeding,) to not get lost! The BBC, as we were now calling ourselves – the Barmy, Beaver Circus, now consisted of his wife, Joanne, Tom’s parents, James and Hilary, his parents-in-law, Anne and Bob Curtis, his aunt, Sally Perrin, adopted family Vernon Smith, his wife Nicky and their 11 week old baby Charlie, an old school friend from Gordonstoun New Zealander, Guy Jolly and of course his trainer and invigilator, Steve Haywood. Additionally our stalwart camera crew, from Fisher-Caldwell Productions two of which Pebbs Fisher and her husband, Stu Turnbull (doctor and fellow extreme sports competitor,) were also old friends from Gordonstoun. The others consisted of Pebbles’ partner, Gemma Caldwell another cameraman, Katherine Hodge.
FRENCH PIT STOP BABY CHARLIE PREPARING TO BE A FILM STAR!
After various pit stops, a 7 mile detour (not due to bad map reading but road works,) and a couple of occasions when Tom fell off his bike due to disorientation and sheer exhaustion he had nearly arrived in Paris when he had to have an extended stop for him to rehydrate. The support cars were already in Paris at this stage and as usual, information from the van as to when and how etc was proving difficult to decipher, but amazingly at around 2.0am Wednesday morning, we did all find our way to the L’Arc de Triomphe, with time to prepare our cameras and to wait for Tom’s grand finale when we found that the Parisian Gendarmes were not having anyone on their roundabout AT ALL, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES!
WAITING AT POIX DE PICARDIE OUR SUPERSTAR ARRIVES
By this time we were also joined by Greg Wilkie, another friend who at midnight on the first day of the event had decided to run for exactly 31 miles, following a hundred yards or so behind Tom down towards Dover. After finishing he had gone home, and then flown to Paris to witness the finish of Tom’s great achievement. So with the restrictions imposed by the Gendarmes, rather disappointingly, the best we could do was to gather on the corner of the Champs Elysee in the shadow of the dominating L’Arc de Triomphe to await our hero. Then, after all the trauma of the previous few days with collective massive relief that he was still almost in one piece, a little wobbling flashing bike light could be seen heading up the Champs Elysee towards us and Tom was advancing towards the finish line. To cheers, tears and applause this crazy, brave, hugely determined young 27 year old 5th Enduroman crossed the line at last, completing the challenge of a lifetime and probably one of the most difficult of any in the world. After cycling a staggering 187 miles, including the extra 7 on the detour, it had taken him 19 hours 20 mins to complete this final part of the challenge.
THE LAST FEW METERS UP THE CHAMPS ELYSEE
THE TRIUMPHANT MOMENT
In total he has run 87 miles in 21 hours, 19 mins, swam we think 22 miles but in all probability much more taking 20 hours 44 mins and cycled the concluding 187 miles to eventually arrive in Paris with a grand total time of 85 hours 56 mins. Considering there have been 14 people who have attempted it so far, Tom is only the 5th to have succeeded and the youngest. If not for the extreme conditions in the channel for the swim, Tom would have most likely cracked the record which stands at 81 hours 5 mins, held by Eddie Ette so he missed it by a mere 5 hours, making his the 2nd quickest time - “What an fantastic achievement.” his mother says, "he has lost 2 stone in weight but I am sure will quickly regain it as soon as the damage to his mouth and oesophagus heals and he is able to eat properly again, he just needs lots of my famous pancakes!"
THE WHOLE TEAM
Speaking to a rather emotional Steve afterwards, he said there is only way to describe Tom – “A Hero! The swim was as gruelling as any channel swim has ever been and Tom was the most calm and determined of any swimmers that I have ever witnessed. It was an honour to both coach Tom and be there as the Enduroman director for the Arch to Arc, I had the privilege of both swimming the last 200 meters to the French coast with Tom and running with him on the bike for the last mile to the L’Arc de Triomphe. I was humbled by his determination and I congratulate him on becoming an Enduroman”
Mike Reid ‘King of the Channel’ – 31 times channel swimmer from 1984 – 2000 is quoted as saying “That has to go down as one of the bravest swims the channel has ever seen! Well done to Tom.”
On the Enduroman website forum there were many many messages one of which was from Pat Garbutt - “If this were played upon a stage now, I would condemn it as improbable fiction – William Shakespeare” another from his cousin Maria Hartley (Blake’s sister,) who lives in Houston, Texas (and who is battling with hurricane Ike at the moment,) added “With Tom’s amazing stamina and strength – maybe Uncle Jimmy should consider getting him a Flintstone car – think of all the money he could save on fuel!” His brother Henry who was in the support boat said”It was brutal out there, and not many could have swum like Tom, it was humbling and awesome to see up close and personal. Good luck with the bike bit big guy, you can do it.” Speaking as his aunt and the mother of Blake, I think there could be no greater tribute to my son than what Tom has accomplished and I feel sure that Blake had a hand in helping us locate Tom on that beach and helping him ashore, he has achieved something amazing that Blake would have been so proud of, as we all are.
On a final note - to everyone’s surprise when we arrived home this morning at 2.0am, a few minutes later we saw the van coming down the road with Tom driving, he had driven the last 160 miles! What a man!
TOM AND STEVE
ON THE PHONE TO HIS BROTHER HENRY