Cyclist - - Italy - Words JAMES SPENDER Pho­tog­ra­phy GEOFF WAUGH

Lon­don to Ed­in­burgh to Lon­don on foot and by bike. The catch? You’ve got 50 hours to do it. Con­tenders, start your Fit­bits…

Twelve mem­bers of the public, twelve walks of life, but one thing unites them. A sin­gle word: ap­pre­hen­sion. ‘That’s the best way to de­scribe it,’ says Ni­cola Noble over her 4am cof­fee. At 29, Ni­cola’s a sea­soned duath­lete, but along with her fel­low ath­letes is strug­gling to re­mem­ber why she’s about to run 54km, pedal 1,309km and as­cend 10,568m in a bid to get from Buck­ing­ham Palace to Ed­in­burgh Cas­tle and back in 50 hours.

To put that into per­spec­tive, it’s the equiv­a­lent of run­ning one and a quar­ter marathons, climb­ing the Eif­fel Tower and cy­cling 12 times around the Isle of Wight while rid­ing up Ever­est with Ben Ne­vis for dessert. To put that into words? That’s the Fit­bit Fifty, and to­day is the first time this chal­lenge will be at­tempted.

Blaz­ing trails

Stage 1, from Buck­ing­ham Palace to the Olympic Park, starts at 6am to a ca­coph­ony of beeps from the ath­lete’s Fit­bit Surge fit­ness track­ers, which are lit­er­ally on hand to count up the kilo­me­tres and down the hours. Split into two teams of six – Chal­lenge and Ad­ven­ture – the ath­letes will com­plete the five run­ning stages to­gether but tackle the bike stages in pairs – no mean feat given the com­plex­i­ties of cy­cling in a group. Pro­fes­sional teams take years to bond per­son­ally and tac­ti­cally; th­ese am­a­teurs have met only a hand­ful of times be­fore to­day. Un­doubt­edly this will play a huge part.

Each team has a bus on which to change, eat and sleep, but other­wise lit­tle stands be­tween them and the road.

Adam Gam­ble takes the lead across the Northum­ber­land Na­tional Park

Be­low: The team nears the Scot­tish bor­der

Head­torches il­lu­mi­nate the way along the old Trans Pen­nine Rail­way tracks

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