"Shalane Flanagan cut such a familiar figure Sunday, running toward the cameras in Central Park at the New York City Marathon, that it seemed odd she hadn't been seen on a marathon course since the 2016 Rio Olympics. With her upright carriage, high cheekbones flushed with exertion, chin tucked, blond ponytail switching back and forth like a metronome, she has been a fixture in big international distance races for 10 years now: always in contention, never quite able to close the last gap. Now she was the one who was accelerating beyond reach."
“The genius of childhood is a common human possession and a biological condition common to people in all cultures. Its special qualities however are seldom retained throughout life except in the most highly creative individuals.” – Edith Cobb
“All that’s sacred comes from youth” – Eddie Vedder
The 2nd of October, 1873. Englishman Phileas Fogg embarks on an epic adventure, relying solely on his ingenuity and the technology of the day, steam and rail power, to steer himself around the world in just eighty days. This classic adventure story, a work of fiction by the French novelist, Jules Verne, must have been very much alive inside Mark Beaumont when he biked 145 miles across his homeland of Scotland at just 11 years old.
The Power of Awakened Memories
Some children experience intense visionary periods between the ages of nine and twelve. These children awaken to the possibility of taking possession of their own lives and to participating in their own destiny and development. Yet, in our Western culture, little attention or credence is given to these awakenings. Few parents understand such moments, and conventional psychologies and educational institutions diminish their value. Consequently, childhood memories of wonder and beauty, and magic, of being vividly alive inside a growing body, can be forgotten forever.
Thankfully, our natural ability to reorganize ourselves and restore this “forgotten wisdom” for our own true betterment is remarkably resilient. Which is why it’s not all that uncommon to meet people like Mark Beaumont, a modern-day Philes Fogg, who set off from France on July 2nd on a mission to cycle around the world in 80 days and miraculously arrived back in Paris one day ahead of schedule.
Super Human Kinetics
Fogg and Beaumont share a love of travel, and the great unknown. But while Fogg was content in solitude, Beaumont, no stranger to cycling around the world, is a social adventurer who used digital technology to “share the saddle” with a global audience as he pedaled around the planet for the second time. (Mark claimed his first world record in 2008, when he cycled around the world in 144 days.)
“I love traveling at the speed of a bike, but I’ve never been a techie bike guy, ridden religiously or followed competitive cycling,” admits Mark. “The bike was simply the mode of transport for this journey.”
Mark traveled more than 18,000 miles during his incredible journey, riding 16 hours and averaging 240 miles every day, functioning on just five hours of sleep. His route was always changing because when his team originally plotted the course on the map, they didn’t know how good or busy all the roads would be. So periodic route changes were factored in to make sure that Mark did not have to ride alongside big lorries or on really busy roads. As expected, the weather and Mark’s health were very important. He had a special support team that looked after him.
Beaumont’s remarkable trip saw him bike through Europe, Russia, Mongolia, China, Australia, New Zealand, and North America, before the final ‘sprint finish’ through Portugal, Spain and France.
“The dream was to get around the world in 80 days. To get back here in 78 days and change is an absolute dream come true. When I left here, I felt like a lot of people were excited by the idea but thought it was impossible. The success of cycling around the world in 80 days shows that what seemed impossible is possible and has redefined the limits of endurance sport… I’ve had the most incredible team. Ten years ago I finished here doing an unsupported race around the world and this time to go with a full support team is a completely different mindset.”
So beyond his sophisticated bike, his top flight support crew, and the advanced digital technology, what powered Mark’s successful record-setting circumnavigation of the globe? Perhaps it was awakening a childhood memory, inspired by Jules Verne’s classic adventure novel — and actively listening to its call — that filled him with the power to be so inclusive, so vigilant and so tireless on his magnificent ride.
“I’ve taken myself beyond anything I’ve ever done physically and mentally, and I doubt I’ll ever do anything like that again.”
Around the World in Eighty Days was written during difficult times for France. The idea for the book came to Jules Verne one afternoon in a Paris café while reading a newspaper.
The technological innovations of the 19th century had opened the possibility of rapid circumnavigation and the prospect fascinated Verne and his readership. In particular, three technological breakthroughs occurred in 1869–70 that made a tourist-like around-the-world journey possible for the first time: the completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad in America, the linking of the East India Railroads across the sub-continent, and the opening of the Suez Canal.
These three innovations marked the end of an age of exploration and the start of an age of fully global tourism that could be enjoyed in relative comfort and safety. It sparked the imagination that anyone could sit down, draw up a schedule, buy tickets and travel around the world, a feat previously reserved for only the most heroic and hardy of adventurers.
144 years later – enter Mark Beaumont, the childlike cyclist of fortune, equipped with his own technological breakthroughs.
Your Moment in the Sun
What about you? Take some time to contemplate Mark Beaumont’s fascinating life journey and see if it opens you up to similar childhood visionary moments that sparked your spontaneous imagination. How do you relate your childhood sense of wonder to a cosmic sense that inspires your work as an adult?
A “forgotten memory” doesn’t always directly reveal your lifework or destiny. You may simply remember playing in the yard under the elm tree at dinner time, and hearing your mom call you from across the lawn. You stood up and the sun was in your eyes. Your mom called again and you were suddenly filled with a rush of power. You were being called… and if you did not answer, no one else would! You stood still, breathing in that moment, gazing into the golden sunlight, truly aware of yourself for the first time…