Townsville doctors smash round-the-world Guinness Record for charity
Published: 04 December 2019
Two Townsville Hospital Emergency Department doctors have cycled their way into the Guinness World Book of Records this month, riding a tandem bicycle 28,000 kilometres across the globe, unsupported, in 281 days and 22 hours.
Louis Snellgrove and Lloyd Collier raced against headwinds, brown bears, thieves and multiple mechanical issues to beat the previous record by nine days and raised more than $35,000 for The Brain Foundation and Spinal Research charities.
The duo – who set off on 7 August 2018 – raced across Asia, Russia, Europe, North America and Oceania and said the that while it was the toughest thing they’d ever done, there was no doubt that it was an experience of a lifetime.
“When we were experiencing it, we realised that a majority of the people we know or will ever meet would never get to experience this and so we made the most of every opportunity we had and really just appreciated it for what it was,” Lloyd said.
“For me, the highlight was the people; we stayed with a polar explorer, who was the first man to ski to the North Pole, stayed with celebrity chef Bob Blumer, met astronauts, famous footballers and people from all walks of life but our favourite people were those who didn’t have much but would take us in, put a roof over our heads and cook us a meal.
“This was especially true in Siberia, where the weather was harsh but the people were amazingly kind.”
Despite one camp-site already hosting a large brown bear, Louis said they made it across the globe with only a few bumps in the road.
“I have so many amazing memories, some of them include pitching our tent in the beautiful forests of Siberia, next to Lake Garda in Italy and having vodkas with Russian fruit-stall owners on the side of the road to warm ourselves up, then going back to meet their entire village who all came over to say hello,” Louis said.
“We slept in abandoned buildings, in Siberian railway stations and forests, went through an earth quake in New Zealand, saw rattlesnakes and alligators in America and so many crazy things.
“Not everything was as easy as pulling up and pitching though; we were looking for a place to camp when we saw a brown mass and it took us a moment to realise it was a huge brown bear.
“It was about ten metres in front of us and we just froze, but after it stared at us for what felt like the longest few seconds of our lives it moved on.
“In India, we were hit by a motorcyclist who was trying to take a selfie of us while driving with someone on the back, we also got robbed at knife point in Mongolia and the next day we had 100 kilometres of headwinds, so that was a bit like, ‘what we’re doing is mental’, but a lot of the time it was just excellent.”
Despite going through seven different wheels, five different tyres, a minimum of 20 inner tubes and countless spokes the pair said they came out the other side grateful that they’d achieved a boyhood dream.
“Every year as a child I would read the Guinness World Record of Records and get inspired by the stories of achievement,” Louis said.
“I can’t wait to one day sit in a pub when I’m retired and tell the story of how I cycled the globe years before – what a way to see the world.”
For Lloyd, the journey – and the charity he decided to support – was personal.
“My Uncle Alun spent 30 years without the ability to walk, yet achieved more things than others with fully functioning bodies would ever achieve in a lifetime, and that was a big inspiration for me,” Lloyd said.
“He unfortunately passed away last year, which was the most difficult news I ever had to deal with, so he will never see me achieve what I have set out to achieve; however, I will forever endeavour to make the most of my life and achieve as many of my goals as possible in memory of him.”
As far as extended leave goes, the pair said they were eternally grateful to the staff at The Townsville Hospital and in particular those in the Emergency Department.
“The people in our workplace were equally as amazing as the people we met on the road because of the support and time they gave us to do this,” Lloyd said.
“We had so much support from the doctors, nurses, administration staff in Emergency – one who even knitted hats to donate to charity.
“A lot of different people supported us both personally and professionally, which in turn helped us to support our charities, so we really couldn’t have asked for a team in emergency or a better workplace.
“You can’t describe how grateful you are beyond showing it, so we hope this journey has shown everyone just how far we can go if we all pull together.”