Sean Conway: world’s longest triathlon and an exciting new speed record

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26.01.17 at 11:17 am

We managed to catch up with professional bearded man, endurance adventurer, and all round nice guy Sean Conway to ask him a few questions about some of his adventures and exciting plans for 2017. We’re big fans of Sean and we work with him behind the scenes supporting his efforts and insuring his bicycles. 

Sean came to fame after his round the world cycling record attempt in 2012 ended underneath a truck on the USA leg of his trip (don’t worry, it didn’t put Sean off for long). The following year when Sean became the first person to swim from Lands’ End to John O’Groats and in 2016 he completed the world’s longest triathlon – a 4,200 mile bike, run, swim circumnavigation around the coast of Britain.

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You’ve been ladled as an adventurer. You went to a posh doo with the British exploring society. What does that mean to you: ‘Adventurer’? Do you like that label, does it apply to you?

For ages I thought it was poncey and a bit naff. There’s a certain corner of society that ‘Adventurers’ normally come from and I’m not one of them.

Adventure to me is a way of thinking. It’s not always about climbing mountains or rowing oceans, you can be adventurous in everyday life. Buy a pheasant and try and cook it, or go to Morocco on holiday instead of Spain, because adding a sense of uncertainty to your life just makes it more enjoyable.

In 2011 I was miserable. I used to be a corporate photographer and dreamed of taking photos for all the outdoor magazines. Instead I got sucked into earning money and living in London, trying to get as many high paid jobs as possible, rather than jobs that gave me uncertainty.

By the time I was 30, I was doing the type of photography that I would probably end up doing for the rest of my life. How depressing is that?

I sold my business for one pound in 2011 and vowed not to make any decisions in life based on my financial outcome but rather experiences, challenging myself, and becoming a better human being.

In 2016 Sean upped the ante, adding in a bike and run to create a 4,200 mile, unsupported ultra-triathlon around the British coast. The event was documented by the Discovery Channel in their film On The Edge.

Completing the world’s longest triathlon, a 4,200 mile triathlon, was pretty huge. Although running the length of Britain was really difficult for me because I’m not a runner, I always knew I could do it, and I just wanted to tick that box and learn a new discipline.

The world’s longest triathlon gave me that excitement again where I was really unsure whether it was doable or not. That was exciting, it was a good year.

The entire triathlon was fully unsupported; camping, finding my own food. I ate roadkill actually with Vin Cox [the current round the world cycling record holder].

Sean Conway
Sean met his twin when running along the coast of Britain

What did you find?

Duck. He was cycling with me and about 5 miles from his house. I was going to stay at his house that night. He just slammed on the breaks, jumped off the bike, looked in the bush, picked up a duck and said ‘this one is definitely fresh’. He carried it on his handlebars all the way home and we had duck breast for dinner.

Better than fox or badger I suppose.

I don’t know, I’d have a crack at anything to be honest.

If I had the choice, I’d probably go for the duck.

Yeah you’re right, that’s the posh one isn’t it.

Sean catches a fish while swimming across the Solent
Sean catches a fish while swimming across the Solent

I saw somewhere you mention doing Cairo to Capetown as a run. Do you think that’s still on the cards?

Yeah. That’s the big one, the one I’m too scared to do now because I’ll have nothing to do after that one. Also I think my body needs to be older to give this adventure what I want to give it.

I was trying to work out how many Lands’ End to John O’Groats that would be?

About 10, roughly. It depends how lost you get. I would go for the record as well. I’d like to do it faster than Al Humphries cycled it just to annoy him.  [120 days]

Your events have grown in size and complexity and ambition. Do you have a feeling that you need to outdo yourself, or make your challenges bigger?

Oh yeah, definitely. Which is becoming quite difficult.

I didn’t plan it out, I just wanted to do something new each year. Bigger, better, faster. There were a few ones that I want to hold off for my 40s and 50s like the Cairo to Capetown run, but I’m always looking for the next best thing.

Now I fancy having a crack at records that are time based. Trying to be faster than everybody else, and mainly on the bike for the next year.

So fresh of the press, Sean has just announced his challenge for 2017. He’s aiming to break the record for the fastest lap of Australia on a bike. That will require cycling 14,100km in less than 37 days, 1 hour and 18 minutes. That’s over 381km every day for 37 days – or I guess or 391.6 every day for 36 days. Now, that’s a lot of cycling. Good luck Sean and we are looking forward to supporting you on this mission. 

Sean’s looking for a support crew. You’d need to be able to drive, mend bikes, cook and have a lot of patience. But, you’d also get to drive around Australia so get in touch if this is something you are interested in. www.seanconway.com. Sean’s Instagram is well worth a follow too.

Sean won't be attempting this record on a bamboo bike!
Sean won’t be attempting this record on a bamboo bike!