By Jonny Long
A 14-year-old schoolboy has become one of the youngest people to complete an Everesting, riding 122 miles in 28 hours to achieve 8,848m of elevation, foregoing sleep until he'd completed his effort.
Zak Burgess from Lancashire used a climb four miles from his front door to climb the height of Mount Everest, and only spent five weeks training for the challenge before starting his ride.
Getting on his bike at 4am, Zak spent the next 28 hours climbing, finishing at 8am the next day, having ridden 122 miles without sleep.
"There were some extreme highs and lows as part of the ride. I don’t really get emotional about things but the extreme tiredness brought a flood of emotion at the end. When you’ve been dreaming of that final moment and then it hits you, it’s big. I’ve never felt anything like it. Crying was my only option - I was speechless," Burgess said.
He says the hardest moment was when it started to rain at 3am, 23 hours into his effort, but supporters stayed out on the road to keep him going.
"Riding through the night was the toughest. It started to rain about 3am and it got cold, I thought I wasn’t going to make it but people stayed out through the night and some rode with me to keep me going – shout outs to them all, I wouldn’t have made it without the support."
Burgess raised over £3,000 for UK charity Re-cycle, which recycles bikes from the UK and sends them to rural communities in Africa, through his effort, and comes from a long line of cyclists, his great grandfather having been the chairman of a cycling club where he met his wife, the pair honeymooning on a tandem.
His dad, also a keen cyclist, says he and his mother tried to ignore their son's wishes to take on such a gruelling physical venture, but that Zak's determination eventually won out.
"At first his mum and I tried to ignore the crazy idea and even the night before I was running around Manchester trying to find a pair of shorts for him as he realised he didn’t have any," Niels Burgess said.
"Pro-cyclists would wince if they knew how unprepared we were for this. But once on the road it was clear he was determined – and despite our fears for him out through the night, in the rain and freezing cold, he kept at it and we couldn’t be prouder."
Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races. I'm 6'0", 26 years old, have a strong hairline and have an adequate amount of savings for someone my age. I'm very single at the minute so if you know anyone, hit me up.
Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab, reporting about students evacuating their bowels on nightclub dancefloors and consecrating their love on lecture hall floors. I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).
I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.
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