A SOUTH DERBYSHIRE man battled against flash floods, torrential downpours and storm strength winds on two wheels to complete the 'London Marathon for cycling' in aid of UNICEF.
John Crossley, 26, of Normandy Road, Hilton, cycled the gruelling 86-mile course alongside more than 20,000 riders in the second annual RideLondon Surrey 100 on Sunday – the largest cycling sportive ever held in the UK.
The former Mail reporter crossed the finishing line in five hours and 22 minutes in his bid to raise £1,225 for UNICEF, which is enough money for the international children's charity to build an emergency school or hospital in a war zone.
"The weather was beyond biblical, I'm not sure I'll ever experience rain like that in England again," he said.
"Some of the downhill sections had turned into rivers – the water was up to my ankles at points. It was pretty scary – and it really added an extra dimension to what is a tough endurance event.
"However, it pales in comparison to the conditions young children and orphans have to grow up in in some of the world's poorest countries.
"In major conflicts the children are often forgotten about, so I'm proud to be raising money for such a fantastic charity as UNICEF.
"I'm around halfway to my overall target and just a small donation can go a long way to making a big difference."
Dubbed by organisers as the 'Marathon on wheels', the race had been shortened by competition chiefs from 100 miles before the 6am start at the Olympic Park, in Stratford, East London, due to the exceptional weather circumstances.
The UK was battered by the tail end of Hurricane Bertha which hit the south east of the country on Sunday morning.
To sponsor Mr Crossley, visit http://fundraise.unicef.org.uk/MyPage/jcrossleyridelondon until September 10.