Ben Cook ready for 7,455-mile African challenge after 53-mile warm-up in Bishop's Stortford
A cold walk around the clock in Bishop's Stortford was the perfect warm-up for adventurer Ben Cook's next challenge: a trek across Africa.
The 25-year-old former student of Leventhorpe School, Sawbridgeworth, and The Bishop's Stortford High School was joined by more than 30 supporters for a 2.2-mile circuit from the bandstand in Castle Park, through Grange Paddocks to the Red, White and Blue park off Rye Street.
Ben completed 24 laps – a total of 53 miles (85km) – on his 24-hour walk and four hardy souls completed the challenge with him.
He had asked supporters to take a leap of faith and spend leap year day (Saturday February 29) walking to raise awareness of environmental issues. Together they raised £700 for One Tree Planted.
Ben, a former captain in the Royal Marines Commandos, said: "The best bit was watching the sunrise having walked through a very cold and dark night. Also devouring a midnight pizza.
"The worst bit was probably during the night, realising that we still had a long time to go until the finish. But despite this, morale was high throughout."
Ben is now counting down the days to Vagabonding Africa, his next, rather more ambitious test of endurance. On March 31, he will begin walking 7,455 miles (12,000km) from Cairo to Cape Town, the breadth of Africa, to help combat climate change.
He will again be raising money for One Tree Planted, hoping to generate £1 for every kilometre he walks from the Egyptian capital in the north to South Africa – enough to plant 12,000 trees in Africa.
Ben is no stranger to epic overseas challenges. In 2019, riding as The Hairy Handlebars and sporting moustaches, he and pal George Cullen, who plays rugby for Bishop's Stortford, cycled 8,700 miles (14,000km) across 19 countries from London to Tokyo in six months and raised more than £30,000 for the Movember Foundation, which tackles prostate and testicular cancers, mental health and suicide. They arrived in the Japanese capital two days after the Rugby World Cup kicked off.