James Crack­nell

For­mer row­ing world cham­pion and dou­ble Olympic gold medal­list James Crack­nell tells KATE WIL­LIAMS why he chose Devon for his fam­ily hol­i­day home and about his in­volve­ment in the Great West Run

Devon Life - - Inside -

The ma­jor­ity of peo­ple prob­a­bly wouldn’t be sur­prised that James Crack­nell OBE is heav­ily in­volved in the up­com­ing Great West Run, but they might be to learn of his deep love for our county.

The for­mer row­ing world cham­pion and Olympic gold medal­list is an in­spir­ing sports fa­natic, ath­lete and ad­ven­turer as well as an am­bas­sador for fight­ing obe­sity with phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity.

Based in Lon­don with his wife, TV pre­sen­ter Bev­er­ley Turner, and their three chil­dren – a son, Croyde, and two daugh­ters, Kiki and Trixie – James also has a hol­i­day home in North Devon, a place which is very close to his heart. With two Olympic gold medals and six world cham­pi­onship ti­tles to his name, the for­mer rower has taken on a num­ber of ad­ven­tures, in­clud­ing the gru­elling Amund­sen Omega3 South Pole Race, The Race across the At­lantic and, more re­cently, cross­ing the Empty Quar­ter in the Ara­bian Desert on camel­back – all with friend Ben Fogle. In 2010, whilst rac­ing to cy­cle, run, row and swim from Los An­ge­les to New York in a record 18 days, James was struck by a petrol tanker from be­hind when cy­cling through Ari­zona.

‘The time we spend in Devon to­gether, we ex­pe­ri­ence to­gether rather than just hap­pen­ing to be in the same place’

Suf­fer­ing a brain in­jury, James has at­trib­uted his sur­vival to the fact he was wear­ing a hel­met and is now vice-pres­i­dent of char­ity Head­way, ad­vo­cat­ing the use of cy­cling hel­mets.

But when­ever he gets a small break in the hec­tic sched­ule of his ca­reer, James loves noth­ing more than to bring his fam­ily to the shores of North Devon, to share his ad­mi­ra­tion for the West Coun­try with his loved ones.

He says: “We love the out­door en­vi­ron­ment and in Devon you get both the coast and the amaz­ing na­tional parks.

“I ac­tu­ally spent a lot of time in Corn­wall as a lad, but get­ting to

Devon with the kids, es­pe­cially for a long week­end, is much eas­ier.”

So why did he choose Croyde to pur­chase a hol­i­day home?

“I went surf­ing there as a teenager and loved the at­ti­tude and at­mos­phere of the place. I still do.”

James feels as though his fam­ily spend real qual­ity time to­gether when they are in Devon.

He ex­plains: “It is the out­door na­ture of the place. The time we spend in Devon to­gether, we ex­pe­ri­ence to­gether rather than just hap­pen­ing to be in the same place. So, a long week­end ac­tu­ally feels more like a proper break.

“We don’t get to visit as much as we would like to as the kids are at school, so there isn’t the same free­dom. But let’s face it, who gets to go on hol­i­day as of­ten as they’d like?

“Any­body with three kids will say there’s not that much down­time! But I love The Thatch in Croyde Bay and The Rock in Ge­orge­ham.”

James also trains for marathons and takes part in sev­eral races across the UK but is a part-owner of Ex­eter’s Great West Run, mak­ing it a prin­ci­pal event in his cal­en­dar.

He says: “It’s vi­tal to the event, our staff and the com­pany that it’s a suc­cess.

“On a per­sonal level, I love run­ning and love run­ning in dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tions, ur­ban and ru­ral as well as dif­fer­ent parts of the coun­try.

“I be­lieve that be­ing phys­i­cally ac­tive helps us make the most of our lives, our kids’ lives and our grand­kids’ lives.

“To do that we need to build ex­er­cise into our lives so it be­comes a habit and to ini­ti­ate that we need a goal – and a fun one – which the Great West Run is.”

The Olympian, who won gold in both the 2000 Syd­ney Olympic Games, along­side Steve Red­grave, and the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, has a mes­sage for peo­ple in Ex­eter and Devon con­sid­er­ing tak­ing part in the run.

He says: “You can do it! It’s Devon’s big­gest run­ning event and al­ways a bril­liant at­mos­phere.

“Be there on the start line ready to en­joy it.” the­greatwestrun.co.uk

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