Adventurer, Fundraiser, Speaker, Part-time Superhero
Jamie McDonald, against all odds, has become something of an adventurer.
Jamie spent the first nine years of his life in and out of hospital with a rare spinal condition known as syringomyelia. Combined with a very weak immune system and epilepsy, Jamie’s health was very poor. He was treated at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital and Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital in London. At nine years old, the symptoms eased, something Jamie attributes to an effort to become more active.
After working as a tennis instructor to save up for a deposit on a house that he did not buy – Jamie then began a quest, with his own money, to give back to the hospitals that supported him.
In 2012, he bought a second hand bike and decided to cycle the 14,000 miles from Bangkok to his hometown Gloucester, passing through dozens of countries. Along the way he was shot at, arrested and slept rough. He documented his journey in a series of YouTube clips, including a highlight video of the entire journey.
Just two days after he finished the journey back from Bangkok; he made the decision to attempt the world static cycling record, which stood at 224 hours and 24 minutes. It was a challenge he’d conceived whilst cycling from Bangkok.
He finally stepped off the exercise bike set up within a marquee in Gloucester after pedalling for a world record breaking 268 hours – more than eleven days. Throughout both challenges, Jamie raised tens of thousands of pounds for the Pied Piper appeal, a charity that benefits the children’s ward of Gloucester Royal Hospital.
These feats sparked a thought in Jamie’s mind – if he was never a cyclist before these two challenges, but he could go on to break one of the toughest official world cycling records – what else could he achieve?
In February 2014, Jamie finished an historic journey across Canada, becoming the first person in history to run the 5,000 miles from the Atlantic coast to the Pacific coast without the aid of a support crew. Starting in March 2013, his run raised more than £200,000 for sick children in Canada and the UK. He battled -40°C temperatures, the Rockies, a frostbitten nose, numerous potentially challenge-stopping injuries (including the permanent misshaping of his right foot) and more to finish in Vancouver, running the equivalent of a marathon most days. Jamie filmed his journey all the way across to create a short, BBC documentary.
Jamie cites current and future generations to achieve, as a huge motivation, and hopes to continue to show that “Anyone can be a Superhero”.