Our Active Travel Officer, Ronan McLaughlin hit the headlines recently when he became the fastest person in the world to complete an Everesting challenge. Read his story and find out about this epic ride.
“It’s all pretty surreal how well the challenge went and the fact that I now have a world record, that’s something that has never even crossed my mind and now it’s a reality, crazy." - Ronan McLaughlin.
Yes, that’s right. The ex-pro cyclist and now world record holder managed to cycle an eye-watering 8,848 metres, the height of Everest in an incredible time of 7 hours 4 minutes and 41 seconds.
Knocking seven-time Grand Tour winner Alberto Contador off the top spot when he cycled up Mamore Gap in Donegal a total of 77 times - and a little extra, just to be sure.
From the hills of Donegal to the playgrounds of the North West
Although Ronan’s passion and talent for road racing are clearly evident.
He spends most of his time in a very different environment - the classrooms and playgrounds of schools across the North West.
As an Active Travel Officer for the Active School Travel programme, Ronan works with schools, teachers, pupils and parents on a programme of activities aimed to encourage and enable school children to take up cycling but also walking and scooting to school.
The programme is delivered by Sustrans and funded by the Public Health Agency and the Department for Infrastructure.
It's an exciting initiative for schools who wish to see more of their pupils choosing an active and healthy journey to school.
This initiative provides schools with a planned programme of activities throughout the year, both in and out of the classroom.
The activities have a wide range of beneficial outcomes from increased physical activity levels resulting in improved health and wellbeing, to reduced congestion and pollution around schools.
World Record holder
Now that the dust has settled on Ronan’s huge achievement, he has had time to reflect. He said:
“It’s all pretty surreal how well the challenge went and the fact that I now have a world record, that’s something that has never even crossed my mind and now it’s a reality, crazy.
"I am overwhelmed by the reaction to my Everesting world record.
"It has got so much global attention. I never could have predicted that happening and all the donations to the Community Rescue Service fundraiser has been the best part of that.”
Ronan's success has proved to be inspirational for the pupils more used to seeing him in the school playground than on the news.
Ronan has received praise and recognition both nationally and internationally.
And his success has proved to be inspirational for the pupils more used to seeing him in the school playground than on the news.
Active Travel Champion and teacher, Bronagh Mullholland said:
“Ronan has been our Sustrans officer here at St Mary's Glenview for the past 3 years and it comes as no surprise to us that he is a world record breaker as we have witnessed first hand his dedication and commitment.
"He's been an inspiration to our pupils who are now regularly and enthusiastically cycling and walking to school.
“We are proud and honoured that Ronan is our Sustrans Officer and wish him a massive congratulations from everyone in Glenview.”
The possibilities are endless with cycling
Ronan encourages everyone to give cycling a try:
“Starting cycling from a young age is so important, which is why I get such satisfaction from my job.
"To be able to see a child cycling without stabilisers for the first time or arriving at school by bike is brilliant.
"I'm looking forward to the new school term in September, there are some obvious changes this year but more than ever, active travel to school is so important so the time is now to make the change.
"I would tell everyone, of any age or ability to give cycling a try. From the school run to cycling up Everest and everything in between, the possibilities are endless.”
Maybe one of Ronan’s pupils will follow in his tracks to become a world champion in years to come.
One thing is for sure, whether it is Mamore Gap or the journey to school, it’s better by bike.