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Briton breaks world record for longest triathlon by running, cycling and swimming 7,500km in Singapore

SINGAPORE — Few might see Singapore as the ideal location for ultra-endurance athletic events given the island’s size and humidity, but design teacher Adrian Bennett recently took to the Republic’s pavements, roads and waters to break the world record for the longest triathlon.

Briton breaks world record for longest triathlon by running, cycling and swimming 7,500km in Singapore

Briton Adrian Bennett during his successful attempt to beat the world record for a triathlon.

  • Adrian Bennett ran 1,450km, cycled 5,850km and swam 225km
  • He had planned to attempt the record across Southeast Asia, but then the pandemic meant he could not travel
  • "It's not boring, because there's so much going on", he said of the Singapore backdrop to his successful record attempt

 

SINGAPORE — Few might see Singapore as the ideal location for ultra-endurance athletic events given the island’s size and humidity, but design teacher Adrian Bennett recently took to the Republic’s pavements, roads and waters to break the world record for the longest triathlon.

Bennett, who is British, ran 1,450km, cycled 5,850km and swam 225km, amounting to slightly over 7,500km — with every kilometre done in Singapore over a period of 189 days. The total distance — verified by Guinness World Records — is roughly equivalent to the distance from Beijing to Berlin.

The 39-year-old had initially planned to attempt this record across Southeast Asia, through countries such as Myanmar, Cambodia and Vietnam, before finishing in Singapore.

However, the Covid-19 pandemic shut borders and international travel ground to a standstill.

At the same time, his wife got a job in Singapore as a drama teacher, and so his family — the couple has two boys aged six and nine — moved to Singapore in October last year.

“The coronavirus meant that the world record had to happen in Singapore. I landed and four weeks later, I started the record attempt,” he told TODAY over a virtual interview.

He made the attempt to raise awareness for a charity called Practical Action, which works in rural communities in India as well as countries in Africa, to help improve their quality of living.

Adrian Bennett cycled 5,850km and swam 225km. Photo: Edmund Wong

FELT LIKE GIVING UP IN FIRST FEW WEEKS

His attempt at breaking the previous record of 6,952km began in November last year, starting with 30km runs around East Coast Park and Marina Bay.

Bennett is no stranger to extreme endurance events. He had participated in a 100km race across a desert in Egypt, and had also completed an Ironman event, a race where athletes have to swim, cycle and run long distances.

However, after a few runs as he embarked on the record attempt, he felt like giving up.

“I knew I could do 26km comfortably… and then it got stretched to 30km and that seems like such a little difference, but I think that it really caused me to break over time,” he said.

For instance, after one week of running 30km a day, he suffered an inflamed foot. He also experienced knee pain, along with severe blisters on his foot. All this, with more than 7,000km to go.

To convince himself not to give up so early, he had to dig deep.

“You just have to get on with it,” he said. “You’ve got to keep on pushing and you never know what’s going to happen the next day.”

Within the first few arduous weeks, his body had become used to the pain levels and had adapted to the distances he was running. He then progressed to running 60km a day — 30km in the morning and 30km at night.

After he completed the 1,450km of running in 50 days, he moved on to cycling, where he completed 5,850km in 59 days.

To qualify for the world record, the rules required Bennett to complete each activity before moving to the next. Other rules included taking no more than five consecutive rest days.

Adrian Bennett prepares for a swim at East Coast in his world record attempt. Photo: Facebook/Adrian Bennett

The swim stage was up next, but this was particularly tough for Bennett as he had the least experience in this discipline. His plan was to swim up and down a stretch of open sea at East Coast Park.

He had planned to do 10km a day, but was pegged back to just 4 to 6km a day due to the difficulties in swimming in the open ocean.

“I quickly learned that with the tides and currents… I couldn't (do 10km),” he said. “Only twice did I get in and the tides were with me and I was cruising.”

Overall, it took him 80 days to swim 225km, and on May 8, he had accomplished the world record, with his wife and friends waiting for him at the finish line to celebrate.

While Singapore might be small enough already, Bennett took it a step further to confine his runs and most of his cycles to a loop around East Coast Park and Marina Bay.

To him, the repetition was anything but mundane.

“It's so wicked to see everybody out there, people are doing their thing… there are lovely trees and flowers,” he said. “It's not boring, because there's so much going on.”

JUGGLING RECORD ATTEMPT WITH JOB HUNT, CHILDREN

Through his record attempt, Bennett was a stay-home dad to his two sons and was also searching for a job.

For example, he would wake up early in the morning to take his children to school, and then go on his run, swim or cycle for a few hours, before he had to pick his children up again in the afternoon.

In the evenings, he would ensure his kids were settled in bed before heading off to continue his quest for the record.

“The hours where my children were awake and at home, I tried not to focus on the triathlon, I didn't want to miss their lives,” he said.

Through the day, he would also be sending out resumes and attending job interviews. He had initially secured a part-time stint as a relief teacher at an international school, and juggled that role with his record attempt.

In January, he began working in his present job as a full-time design and technology teacher at EtonHouse International School Orchard.

THE VALIDATION ATTEMPT

Bennett also recounted the arduous process of getting his world record validated.

As he had to submit his attempt to Guinness World Records to have it confirmed, he had to thoroughly document the entire activity.

For instance, he had to take along a logbook so that passersby who had seen him run, cycle or swim could sign the book to verify the activity.

He also had to take videos of himself on his activities to prove he was doing them, while also providing proof on a GPS device of his activities’ distances and timings.

It took him three weeks after he completed the feat to compile all the documentation and send it over to Guinness. When his attempt was finally verified, he was over the moon.

“I only came down from the high like a month ago,” he said of the record attempt. “I feel like I've done something in my life and I deserve my place on the planet. Because of that... I'm so content.”

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