JOGLE record smashed – or is it?

Sign post at Lands End

JOGLE. A five letter acronym that’s almost perfectly innocuous. It has a comedic sound, as it if’s a game to be played by children like British Bulldog or Tic Tac Toe. In fact it’s likely that only the endurance community hear that word and react with trepidation and respect because it’s them that know’s the John O’Groats to Lands End run or cycle is one of the toughest challenges in existence in the UK.

Travelling between 830 and 900 miles depending on route choice under only the power generated by your own muscles is an immense challenge and has been on that’s defeated some of the toughest athletes out there. So much so that the record for a runner has stood for nearly 16 years despite it being one of the most prized in British ultra running. Andrew Rivett completed the route in nine days two hours and twenty six minutes, covering over ninety miles a day. An incredible effort and one that most were sure would stand for decades.

Well seemingly that was all to end today. A Shropshire man called Mark Vaz claimed he’s not only broken the record but in fact completely obliterated it by over 31 hours in a new record of 7 days 18 hours and 45 minutes. That’s just under 187 hours to cover, on foot, approximately 838 miles. An absolutely incredible achievement which, if ratified, would rival some of the greatest feats of human endurance ever seen.

An incredible feat?

To say this is an unbelievable feat is something of an understatement. For a complete unknown to destroy a record in such a spectacular fashion has astounded many on social media and the common theme amongst most is a mixture of disbelief and wonder. To add some perspective to the nature of the claim is to compare it against some of the greats of the sport. Yiannis Kouros, widely acknowledged as one the finest long distance runners the world has ever produced has a six day record of just under 640 miles. To have completed JOGLE in the time claimed Mark must have replicated that effort and continued on for a further two days without an appreciable drop in speed.

Unfortunately as Mark hasn’t seemed to have used a tracker or any sort or GPS device on his journey it’ll prove impossible to ratify his attempt as a record and as such questions will remain in many quarters as to how a man with virtually no world class endurance pedigree managed to beat a record many of the big names in UK running have failed to even come close to in the last sixteen years.

Further questions have been raised by Mark’s own social media feed, screen shots of Facebook posts indicating his departure from Edinburgh at 11am on the 6th of May and his arrival 156 miles later in Inverness 24 hours 20 minutes later would suggest a world beating run followed by another incredible run of 119 miles from Inverness to John O’ Groats in just under 20 hours after only a short rest. In itself that would be a remarkable run but at the end of multiple days of 100 miles plus I’m afraid for me it’s simply unbelievable.

I’m afraid in the absence of tangible proof in the form of GPS tracks and impartial witnesses this, in the eyes of many in the endurance community, will simply go down as an unprovable and unlikely claim to what I believe remains an outstanding record. And that’s a shame not only for Mark Vaz but also for Andrew Rivett who I believe is a deserving record holder and now will have, at least in the minds of some, a question mark alongside his name as the JOGLE record holder. And he shouldn’t do.

At the time of writing I had tried to contact Mark for comment but he was unavailable.