Irish cyclist Ronan McLaughlin set a new Everesting record on July 30, beating the previous record set by Alberto Contador just three weeks prior.
McLaughlin’s official time came to 7:04:41, almost 23 minutes faster than Contador’s time of 7:27:20. Andy van Bergen of Hells 500, the organization that tracks and verifies Everesting records, confirmed McLaughlin’s record on his Strava post. Not only is it an impressive feat from the 33-year-old former professional cyclist, but it also indicates that a sub-seven hour record is far more tangible than previously thought.
For his route, McLaughlin chose Mamore Gap in Donegal county in northwestern Ireland. He needed to top the brutal climb a little more than 80 times to reach the required elevation gain of 29,029 feet.
Along with setting out to break the Everesting record, McLaughlin also took the opportunity to raise money for a charitable search and rescue organization called Community Rescue Service (CRS). Made up of volunteers, it’s the only accredited lowland search and rescue group in northern Ireland. His fundraising goal, which is still accepting donations, is £8,848—the height of Everest in meters.
This was also McLaughlin’s second attempt at the Everesting record. He completed his first attempt on July 12 on the same climb, though over a longer stretch of road that included a flatter section to allow for more recovery. His time came in at eight hours and nine minutes—breaking the Irish record for Everesting and placing him fifth overall in the world. After doing so well the first time, McLaughlin told Bicycling he thought he could do even better.
“For certain the second attempt was much harder. I had planned to push harder, but also I used a shorter segment which was much steeper and offered much less recovery,” McLaughlin said. “All these things combined plus the fact I had to ascend the steepest section of the climb an extra 16 times on the second attempt meant it was a grueling effort.”
Going into his second attempt, McLaughlin still wasn’t certain if he’d break the record. He says he was motivated by knowing that he could push himself more than the first time and at least achieve a time under eight hours.
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“I still didn’t believe before the second attempt that I could take the world record. I think that was because Contador was the current holder and the thought of being able to surpass his time was just ridiculous,” he said.
It wouldn’t faze him either if (or when) someone else comes along and breaks the record. As he points out, “all records are there to be broken, so I’m just excited to see who breaks it next.” Which then calls into question of whether he’d try it a third time.
“Despite saying ‘absolutely never again,’ I still feel I can go faster, and so I’m reluctantly getting sucked into thinking about doing it again regardless of whether someone breaks my record or not,” McLaughlin said. “I have always liked the Everesting concept, and to see it get so much attention this year is brilliant.”
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