By John Clarke
ANNAPOLIS Md. (Reuters) - Pippa and James Middleton, siblings of Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, are among hundreds of cyclists arriving in Maryland this week and next after completing a U.S. coast-to-coast bike race.
Pippa, 30, and James, 27, are riding 3,000 miles (4,828 km) as part of an eight-person team participating in the Race Across America from Oceanside, California, to Annapolis, Maryland.
They have joined 348 other racers from 27 countries who are making the trek across 12 states, climbing more than 170,000 vertical feet (51,816 vertical meters), according to race organizers.
The race is open to both amateur and professional athletes. While solo racers must qualify to compete, anyone may organize a team and race.
Team racers must complete the race within nine days and most teams finish in about 7-1/2 days, riding a cumulative 350 to 500 miles (563 to 804 km) a day, and racing non-stop.
Solo racers have a maximum of 12 days to complete the race, with the fastest finishing in just over eight days. Solo racers will ride 250 to 350 miles (402 to 563 km) a day, balancing speed and the need for sleep.
The Middletons and their team left California last Saturday, and are racing to raise money for the Michael Matthews Foundation, which helps to provide education to underprivileged children around the world. The foundation is named after a climber who died descending the summit of Mount Everest.
The team, dressed in cycling jerseys featuring a Union Jack design, was expected to cross the finish line late Friday night.
(Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Bill Trott)