Mark Beaumont beats North Coast 500 record with sub-29 hour time

Scottish long-distance rider took 28 hours 35 minutes to complete the 516-mile route, subject to verification

Mark Beaumont on the NC500
(Image credit: Markus Stitz (markusstitz.com))

Mark Beaumont has broken the record for the North Coast 500, the 516-mile route that traces the north coast of Scotland, setting a sub-29 hour time.

The Scottish long-distance rider set off at 8am on Saturday morning from Inverness Castle, and completed the NC500 loop back at the gates just after 12:30pm the next day, to set a new record of 28 hours, 35 minutes, subject to verification from the World Ultra Cycling Association (WUCA). 

It means he beat the time set by Robbie Mitchell last year by about half an hour, setting a new benchmark for the route, as long as WUCA say it's OK.

Beaumont was the first rider to set a time for riding the North Coast 500 on his own in 2015, with a time of 37 hours, 56 minutes and 44 seconds on the course. Seven years later, he has gone almost ten hours quicker.

"Back where we started," he said at the finish. "That was a lot quicker than seven years ago. Stunning route, but that was absolutely brutal. I rode six hours on, and just like five minutes off. It was an amazing team effort, thanks everyone for supporting me. Ah that was tough."

He only paused for around 16 minutes during the entire ride, which obviously hinged heavily on weather conditions. Ten minute stops were scheduled into the ride, but were not fully used.

The route starts at Inverness and runs in a clockwise direction through Muir of Ord, Applecross, Gairloch, Ullapool, Scourie, Durness, Thurso, Castle of Mey, John o' Groats, Wick, Dunrobin Castle, Dingwall before heading back to Muir of Ord and then Inverness.

He had previously broken the world record for circumnavigating the globe, which he did in 79 days, in 2017, and in 2015, also broke the world record for fastest solo ride for the length of Africa by finishing in 42 days and 8 hours.

Before setting off on the ride, Beaumont was keen to stress that it was not a "slam dunk", insisting that Mitchell's time was a solid record, which it proved, despite time being shaved off.

GCN+ was filming the North Coast 500 record attempt with the resulting exclusive documentary due out by the end of this year, with exclusive behind-the-scenes footage.

The expedition saw Beaumont supported by a seven-person team which included his wife Nicci, along with GCN's James Lowsley-Williams, with the filmmakers on top of that.

One of those looking on at the finish, and joining him on the route, was Tom Campbell, the founder and outgoing chair of the NC500, who was proud to see the record taken back by Beaumont.

"I created this and launched this is 2015," he told Cycling Weekly on Sunday. "Mark set the first record in August that year, and that was the beginning of my journey. Today was the end of my journey because I stepped down as the chair of the company last week. 

"So it's a bit like a completing of the circle, Mark setting the record and then regaining it eventually. It's so special. It really brought everything together."

Beaumont was aiming to take on 110 grams of carbohydrate an hour, which was  enough to keep him going, supplied by support cars behind him; at points his glucose drinks were supplemented by savoury and sweet wraps, as well as a request for coffee at one point.

His bike was a Argon18 E-119 Tri+ bike, with a Hunt full disc rear wheel and a 7387 Aerodynamicist Ceramicspeed front wheel. He was wearing a NoPinz custom skinsuit, with NC500 decals, including shoe and calf covers.

The film will join a catalogue of exclusive GCN+ epic adventure and challenge films including Mark’s 'Around the World in 80 Days', the two-part documentary on his 'Race Across America' attempt alongside Jonathan Shubert, and Jenny Graham's unsupported solo cycling world record, 'Eastbound'.

Read more about Mark Beaumont's record-breaking ride in an upcoming feature in Cycling Weekly.

See more

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1