HE DESERVED a hero’s welcome home – and that’s exactly what marathon man James Ketchell got as he returned from an eight-month cycle ride around the world.
James completed the third challenge in his global triathlon last Saturday, and so became the first person ever to row 3,000 miles across the Atlantic, climb Mount Everest, and cycle 18,000 miles around the world unaided.
The 31-year-old, from Riverdene, Basingstoke, set himself the task of completing the ultimate challenge following a near-fatal motorbike accident in 2007.
Doctors told James that he may never walk again after he broke both legs, an arm and badly smashed an ankle.
He told The Gazette: “I have always wanted to row across the Atlantic from an early age, but never had the courage to do it. But it was having that accident that gave me the courage.
“I was lying there with a cast on my leg thinking ‘what have I got to lose?’ I needed something to work towards.”
James set off on the cycle trip last June and crossed the finish line in Greenwich, London, after cycling through more than 20 countries.
During the trek, he met with over 5,000 children in schools and Scout groups around the world.
He said: “I was reaching out and trying to inspire them and say it’s okay to have your own dreams and goals and it’s good to pursue them.”
Speaking about crossing the finish line at 1.30pm, James said: “It was all a bit of a blur. I had mixed emotions. I was really happy to be finishing and to see all my friends and family, and the people who helped and supported me – it boosted my morale.
“It’s been a crazy adventure and in some ways it was a bit sad that it was coming to an end. I was overwhelmed by the support.”
His mission has raised thousands of pounds for the ELIFAR Foundation, which aims to improve the quality of life for disabled children and adults.
James said: “When I was in hospital, I found out what it was like to not be able to move or get around.
“I was very lucky and made a full recovery but a lot of these kids don’t.”
He added: “The charity is small and when you raise money, it has a massive impact.”
James is waiting for confirmation of his world record, but was modest about the achievement. He said: “I’m not overly fussed about that. There are so many people doing things out there and I’m not one for being the first – it just so happens that I am.”
James said the hardest part of the challenge was finding motivation to get back on his bike every day.
He added: “No matter what the weather was doing, or if I was cold or hot or tired, I wasn’t travelling – I was on an expedition. I had targets that had to be met and commitments I had to deliver – it was a job.”
Despite only being back a few days, James is already planning his next adventure in April 2015, when he will row 4,000 miles across the Indian Ocean, from Australia to Mauritius.
James, who will be joined by his friend Ash Wilson, who suffers from epilepsy, said: “We want to prove that just because you have epilepsy you can still do the things you want to.
“Ash has also survived cancer. He’s a remarkable man and has strength and determination.”
To donate to James’ fundraising efforts, visit justgiving.com/ captainketch, or to find out about his latest adventures visit jamesketchell.net.