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Setting World Records with Mark Horne

Updated: Sep 10, 2020

Mark Horne is a man who loves a challenge, adventure and is a three times Guinness World Record holder. I was given the opportunity to ask Mark some questions on how he deals with life and overcoming challenges to achieve success, to hopefully motive others to take on their own adventures.


Mark's Achivements: -

  • 2012: 'Race the Sun' First solo on foot crossing of the Great Glen Way, Scotland: Started on Scotland's east coast as sun rose, and ran to west coast before sun went down. (85 miles, 17 hours).

  • 2013: Vikingarannet: Swedish Ice-Skating Ultra-Marathon 80km, 4hrs 20 - Believed to be fastest time by UK resident).

  • 2013: University of Edinburgh Kilimanjaro Trek Leader.

  • 2014: on BBC Scotland attempting to be first to run the 214km John Muir Way in 24hrs: Unfortunately passed out in Falkirk.

  • 2014: Scottish University Aquathlon Champion.

  • 2014: World Age-Group Triathlon Champs (Finished 17th in Aquathlon - a poor show!)

  • 2015: European Age-Group Aquathlon Champs (Finished 10th) 2017: Guinness World Record: Solo SUP down Thames (62hrs 8 mins - for now anyway!).

  • 2018: Guinness World Record: Tandem Canoe down Thames (A leisurely 80 hours, for charity).

  • 2019: Guinness World Record: Tandem SUP down Thames (57hrs)

What does being free and truly living mean to you?


A tough question! Obviously there are all of the grown-up answers about financial freedom, stability etc..., but to me a truly free day is one where you wake up and have just one goal. Be it paddling 40 miles, finishing a race, or even just building an Ikea wardrobe. I just love the simplicity of working towards something. 



What is the biggest challenge that you have had to overcome in life?


I think I've been incredibly lucky in life in that I don't think I've faced any huge challenges. I do have a few aches and pains that I've had since birth, and a few injuries that I've picked up along the way, but I think they were all pretty much par for the course. I'm close to my family, have had a great education, and try not to focus on any negatives that do come up.


How did you overcome this?


I've been told that I'm annoyingly optimistic, and I'm sure if you caught me on a grumpy day where I'd been doing lots of admin I'd be able to give you a huge list of challenges that I've overcome. Maybe it's the optimism that helps me overcome things. Any task can be broken down into manageable chunks.

'The last step will always come' is always something that comes to mind if I'm in the middle of something onerous. 

How do you prepare for life? Do you have your own personal quiver of skills  that you use?


First of all, I absolutely love the reference to quiver. There aren't enough references to medieval archery in daily life.  What I'm getting from filling out these questions is that I'm quite dull. I prepare for life by making lists, and ticking the things off. The lists can be short or long-term, goal or time oriented. I just need to be working towards something. I suppose the 'skill' I've created is a hatred of something not being ticked off the list. I would say I usually have a really clear target of a 'something' I'm trying to get done in 5 years time, and then I try to make the smaller day-to-day choices based on whether they'll increase the likelihood of the big one happening.  I had two big objectives to achieve before 30, and they were to get a PhD and compete for Team GB in some format. The two of them went hand-in-hand, so going to the library to study stopped me going out at night, and meant I was fresh for a run, and going for a run made me too tired to do anything other than sit and read!


How do you deal with adversity?


Again, I'm not really sure. I've really struggled with the questions about negative things. I suppose I just keep my head down and plough on. I don't think I've ever faced true, true adversity. I've had tough times on runs and paddles, but I'll just focus on a small task such as improving my technique, and that gets me through the darker times.

On a really cheesy note, if I am doing a cold activity I often imagine having a hot chocolate on the sofa with my wife once I'm home. 



What inspires you?


I absolutely love watching people do something really well. It doesn't matter what it is, I just love it. So it could be Tiger Woods, or Roger Federer, or it could just be someone out for a run.  I have this really strong memory of living in a student flat, and two guys coming to fit a Sky dish in this 4th floor apartment. They were just so quick and efficient. Apart from the activity, I'm always interested in the level of time and commitment it takes to get really good at something. I always change my goals too often to ever get truly good at something, so maybe that's what it's about. 


What would you say to others wanting to step into the unknown and take on their own personal adventures?


Go for it. I'm not particularly good at any given activity, but you just need to find something you want to do and just become 'not horrendous' at it. If you have an adventure in mind there has to be a reason it's there, so why not just get outside (or inside if it's finishing a large puzzle) and do it. 


Do you have a favourite quote that gets you going through the tough times?


Oh, way too many of those. Apart from the 'last step always comes' one from above, there's JM Barrie's 'To live, that would be an awfully big adventure'. That usually comes into mind whenever I'm yearning for the next adventure.

There is Shackleton's 'Better a live donkey, than a dead lion', which is useful to stop me doing anything too silly.

Ranulph Fiennes also says that 'life is too short to waste on second class ambition'.


But I would say the ultimate for me has to be If, by Rudyard Kipling. In particular the line relating to filling the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds worth of distance run. Kipling was the Rector of my undergraduate university (a little earlier than me), so there's a touching element there. I wish the poem could be a bit more gender-balanced at the end, but I suppose that is a sign of time that it was written. I have to admit that there isn't a quote in the world that can inspire me more than a packet of custard creams. They truly do get me through the tough times.


Any last words... 


Get out there. If you give something a go and it doesn't work, then try something else. If you need practical advice, ask questions, talk to people who have done similar things. Everyone who has done something that you find inspiring is just a person. They had to ask for advice at the beginning too. Just because you don't know how to do something now, or how to get to where you want to be, doesn't mean that you won't get there. You just need to work out the route. 




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