Students’ 26 hour bike ride challenge for Fiji

 TWO students have powered their way through a gruelling 26 hour bike ride in a bid to raise hundreds of pounds to help villagers in Fiji.

Hannah Craggs, 20, and James Henderson, 20, completed the marathon ride on gym bikes at Middleton Hall Retirement Village, in Middleton St George, near Darlington, where they both work as kitchen assistants during the holidays.

The pair, both of Ingleby Barwick, Teesside, took it in shifts to bike as they powered through the night, averaging 15km an hour and taking it in turns to fuel up on food.

They are hoping to have raised hundreds of pounds in sponsorship, which was boosted by launching a competition to ask residents at the retirement village to guess how many miles they would cycle in 26 hours.

The pair cycled 342 km between them which was boosted to 390 by some of the village’s fit residents who joined them on the bikes throughout the challenge.

Now Hannah is looking forward to taking the money to Fiji herself later this month as part of a two week placement to the country’s capital, Suva, organised by the travel organisation, Volunteer Eco Students Abroad (VESA).

Hannah, who is studying psychology at Teesside University, said: “We were going to try and cycle 19,000 km, which is the distance to Fiji, but opted instead to cycle for 26 hours – the length of time it will take me to get there.

“The Fijians really need help with their infrastructure so we’ll be helping them gain access to fresh water, build a school and animal enclosures and teach English and maths to their primary school children.

“It’s fantastic to raise this money and then to actually take it across with me. I’ll be able to see first hand where it’s being spent. A few hundred pounds will make a real difference.”

James, who is studying physics at Birmingham University, added: “It’s great to be able to do something and see a direct result from our efforts – and I’m running the Great North Run in September so it’s good training too.”

VESA runs a programme of community-based volunteer work abroad. In Fiji, Hannah will be helping to construct rain water catchment tanks to villagers have access to fresh, clean running water and restoring the school equipment and buildings.

“I think I’ll be sleeping on the floor and the shower will be from a bucket but I can’t wait!” she added.