Two British women have claimed the record title for the fastest circumnavigation by tandem bicycle in celebration of the launch of Guinness World Records Day 2020.
On the 29th June 2019, Cat Dixon and Raz Marsden (both UK) set out on their tandem bike to embark on what would become a record-breaking adventure around the world; completing their journey in 263 days, 8 hours and 7 minutes.
The pair arrived back in the UK on the 18th March 2020 and claimed not just the female record, but surpassed the men’s record too, earning them a spot in the upcoming Guinness World Records 2021 Edition.
Cat, 54, and Raz, 55, set out from Oxford last year, covering 18,263 miles on a route that took them through 25 different countries and five continents.
The record-breaking route: Starting in Oxford, UK, then onto France, Monaco, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia, Greece, Turkey, Georgia, India, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Mexico, Morocco, Spain, Gibraltar and then finally back through France to the UK, where they completed their journey.
"We have highlights from every country that we visited and would definitely return to see many- although maybe at a slower pace," the pair said.
"We really enjoyed Europe and would like to see more, Myanmar was beautiful... we only spent a short time in Morocco but we would definitely return to cycle in the mountains."
"Each country was different and we were privileged to meet some amazing and incredibly supportive people on route... the kindness of strangers was amazing all over the world."
The pair were faced with the added challenge of making it home before borders closed and countries went into lockdown as the COVID-19 pandemic worsened.
The final leg of their journey was taking place on the day the travel ban was implemented.
They only just managed to board the penultimate passenger ferry back from Caen, France, to the UK.
In order to cover the vast distance in record time, Cat and Raz cycled between 80-100 miles on average each day, occasionally completing as much as 120 miles in one day on the tandem bike they named ‘Alice’.
The pair listened to music and audiobooks to keep going - and drank lots of coffee!
The pair were also faced with challenging weather and environmental conditions throughout their trip.
Beginning with a heatwave across Europe followed by extended monsoons across Asia and the terrible Australian bush fires - which subsequently forced them to take an inland route across the country, where temperatures often climbed as high as 50 degrees Celsius.
"This was an area of drought where it hadn’t rained since 2016. We also had a day where we rode through smoke- making us cough and our eyes water."
As well as all that, the pair had to find places to stay last minute, without reservations or knowledge of the area.
"One night in Turkey we couldn’t find anywhere to stay and ended up camping at a service station in the area reserved for dog walking," they said.
"Unfortunately, we also pitched the tent under the speaker for Call to Pray- which was incredibly loud at 4am."
Despite the challenging conditions (and camping locations!), Raz and Cat stayed positive.
"We just got on with it and loved it all. It was important to keep laughing- and we did."
The friends met during a charity cycle from London to Paris in 2016 and kept in touch from then, meeting regularly for bike rides.
"We met on a charity cycle ride and started to do lots of cycling together."
"We agreed that it would be amazing to cycle around the world. That then became- why not do it together and why not on a tandem."
In order to take on the circumnavigation challenge together and attempt the record, Raz decided to take a break from her career as a MND Nurse Consultant, and Cat, a lawyer, handed in her notice at work.
Not only did the pair achieve the Guinness World Records title, but also raised over £40,000 for charities; the Motor Neuron Disease Association and Oxfam.
After returning to the UK, Raz returned to the NHS to support patients through this incredibly difficult time.
“We are incredibly proud to be Guinness World Records title holders and excited to help celebrate the launch of Guinness World Records Day this year. The experience was incredible and certainly not without its challenges – most notably racing to make it home as borders closed behind us due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Setting the world record really was the adventure of a lifetime and we hope that it will inspire others to believe that anything is possible if you follow your dreams.” - Record holders Cat and Raz
“It's been a joy following Cat and Raz's big adventure, and I was thrilled to hear that they'd smashed not just the women's title but the overall round-the-world record," said Craig Glenday, Guinness World Records Editor-in-Chief.
"Their high-spirited story of determination, ambition and friendship has been a tonic in these troubled times, and I'm sure these two remarkable women will be an inspiration to anyone looking to expand their horizons and discover their world."
Although they don't plan to stop at cycling - next they want to conquer the famous Land's End to John O'Groats route - which after cycling around the world should be relatively easy!
The announcement of Cat and Raz’s record today, exactly a year after the friends set out on their record breaking route, marks the launch of Guinness World Records Day 2020 (GWR Day), the global celebration of record-breaking.
This year, the day will celebrate the theme Discover Your World, where people are encouraged to try and turn a new found skill or talent into a world-record attempt, or perhaps take on a new challenge now lockdown measures are easing.