Round-the-world cyclist supports University's 500-mile cancer ride

Record-breaking cyclist Mark Beaumont joined University of Aberdeen staff this morning to give them tips on tackling Scotland's equivalent of Route 66 to raise awareness and funds for a new specialist cancer team.

The Scots athlete who holds the record for cycling around the world in under 79 days will join the team of Aberdeen pedallers for part of their North Coast 500 See Cancer attempt.

The North Coast 500 is a 516 mile scenic route around the north coast of Scotland, starting and ending at Inverness Castle, taking in the likes of Applecross, Ullapool and John o’ Groats.

A team of around 20 riders from the University of Aberdeen’s School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition along with some from NHS Grampian and other associates will take on the challenge starting on May 19.

This morning in Ellon, Mark met up with some of the riders to give them some advice on preparing for, and completing the challenge.

The epic eight-day journey is in aid of the University’s drive to raise £4.5million to transform cancer research and support the best cancer care in the North-East of Scotland.

The University, which already has an established track record in the fight against some forms of the disease, is seeking to attract some of the world’s brightest minds to lead pioneering research work.

Scottish charity Friends of Anchor has already committed to raising £1million for the project as they celebrate their 20 year anniversary.

The Centre will build on, and take to the next stage, the oncology research already under way at the University in areas including lung, bowel, gullet, breast, urological, and cervical cancer and aims to increase research activity and capacity.

It could also create opportunities to develop and trial new drugs in Aberdeen for the first time.

Along the route some of the academics involved in the ride will be hosting public events in Inverness, Ullapool and Wick showcasing the university’s expertise and discussing health subjects of interest.

Mark says: “I am delighted to join this team from the University of Aberdeen and friends as they set off to tackle the hilly north in aid of important cancer support in north east Scotland.  The North Coast 500 is Scotland at it’s more rugged, wild and beautiful. It is a route that I know well and it is a serious challenge for any cyclist.”

Professor Steve Heys, Head of the University of Aberdeen’s School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition adds: “We can’t wait to saddle up for this magnificent challenge in order to raise funds for, and awareness of, our drive to put in place a world class cancer research team that will bring a host of benefits to the north east of Scotland.

“Our vision will not only support excellent patient care in the area but also pioneering research and bring even more clinical trials of anticancer drugs to the region.

“Along the route we plan to hold a number of public events to share the good work that we’re doing in medicine, medical sciences and nutrition and to engage with the public and hear their feedback.

“Some of us are experienced cyclists whilst for others this will be the first long-distance cycle they’ve undertaken but we’ve all been in training and will look after one another along the route. It’s going to be a great challenge and a great experience.”