Rugby World Cup: The 20,000km cycle journey to Tokyo


CNN)Some 20,000 kilometers of roads separate Twickenham Stadium, the website of the 2015 Rugby World Cup final, and Tokyo Stadium, on the way to host the whole game of this yr’s competition. For fans, the tournaments are simply a bike experience aside.

In six months, the kickoff between Japan and Russia will convey quite a journey that will take 231 days, spanning continents and 27 international locations. By that point, Ron Rutland and James Owens could be grateful to position their bikes to at least one aspect and watch a few rugby.
“We’re gluttons for punishment,” Rutland tells CNN Sport from Bulgaria, just below four weeks into the adventure.
“It’s pretty relentless going, to be honest. We’re in our saddles, likely approximately seven hours an afternoon.”

Rugby World Cup: The 20,000km cycle journey to Tokyo 1
South African Rutland isn’t any stranger to long-distance adventures. Before the 2015 World Cup, he embarked on a two-12 month, 42,000km cycle through Africa and Europe, arriving in England for the Springboks’ first sport in opposition to Japan — which, famously, they lost.
In the final 12 months, he entered the Guinness Book of Records for finishing the longest ever hole of golf, wherein he caddied for scratch golfer Adam Rolston across the duration of Mongolia.

“To be sincere on the end of that, I was pretty damaged physically,” says Rutland. “I had a hip replacement within the past yr, and I thought I become over it all — I had had those massive adventures and maybe thought it became time to settle down and get a real job.
“I changed into doing just that. I changed into working in Hong Kong for the Hong Kong Rugby Union and punctiliously enjoying it; however, there was so much pleasure for the World Cup in Asia, and I was given stuck up in it.”

And so the Race to Rugby World Cup 2019 was born. Rutland and Owens, a Briton born and raised in Hong Kong, are mission the seven-and-a-1/2 month journey to raise money for ChildFund Pass It Back, a Laureus-supported sports development program and the reliable charity of the World Cup.

Aside from sub-0 temperatures and frozen roads, the riders passed through Europe fantastically unscathed. Temperatures will upward thrust as they technique Japan thru Turkey, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, China, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and Hong Kong.

A map online tracks Rutland and Owens’ progress, complete with a ghost rider they’re competing towards.
“He does not sleep, so he has the gain,” quips Rutland. “We awaken, and he is already 1/2 an afternoon beforehand, people.
“That’s the race detail, trying to race him. World Rugby very kindly provided us with the in-shape whistle for the whole sport, so we are wearing that. The World Cup may not wait for us.”

The pair are endeavoring to stick to their pre-planned route; however, occasions can also pressure them to make diversions. Rutland is conscious, for instance, of the conflict in northern India close to where the present-day direction takes them.

“Other than the English Channel and the sea between Shanghai and Osaka, we’re decided to cycle every inch — however, now not at the rate of doing something reckless and silly,” he says.
The South-Asian stretch can even throw up some of the maximum beautiful parts of the journey. The Pamir Highway will take the riders thru Tajikistan and into the Himalayas, a path it really is long on Rutland’s bucket list. Then there is the Karakoram Highway, the enduring road that meanders from China down into Pakistan.

The riders have masses to barter earlier than they can even start contemplating rugby and the World Cup. Still, Rutland says that he has earmarked a few video games he hopes to observe — and is optimistic about the chances of his local South Africa.
“My heart tells me we will go all of the manners, and I absolutely trust we could,” he says. “I assume we’re not one of the top or 3 favorites, but I quietly suppose we have were given an of doors chance. So the optimist that I am can be cheering them on.”