A PAIR of charity cyclists refused to be bowled over by flu, tough terrain or inclement weather on their mammoth fundraising challenge.

Tom Blundell and Mark Whitmarsh cycled from Land’s End to John O’Groats to raise funds for ground improvements at Cerne Valley Cricket Club.

The duo have so far raised over £6,000 – which will cover over half the costs of the club’s new square.

They completed a total of 1,747 over 15-and-a-half days.

For 65-year-old Tom, who runs K Shoes in Dorchester’s Tudor Arcade, it was the second time he had taken on the challenge and he beat his time of 17 days last time round.

They had hoped to do the challenge in 15 days but took a slightly longer route than planned on the way back.

Tom said they faced some of the most difficult stretches of terrain long distance cyclists could face and when they got to Scotland they were hit by both illness and poor weather.

He said: “Our arrival in Scotland on the fifth day coincided with both of us developing flu symptoms that were to stay with us for the rest of the trip and beyond.”

Tom said they battled ‘vicious winds’ in northern Scotland to reach John O’Groats in seven-and-a-half days and endured icy rain and stiff winds as they headed back towards Fort William before the weather improved as they travelled further south.

He said: “From Fort William onwards the weather was kinder to us and we saw no more rain until our arrival back in Land’s End, at which point the heavens opened.”

Tom joked: “It was nice to get home for a full night’s sleep away from Mark’s snoring and 6am starts.”

He was full of praise for the efforts of his 27-year-old fellow cyclist Mark, who followed up the ride with another major achievement by scoring his first century for the cricket club.

Tom said: “He had never previously tackled long distance cycling so to have completed nearly 1,800 miles of cycling in 15-and-a-half days was a great achievement.”

Around 200 businesses and individuals have helped boost the pair’s fundraising total up to around £6,000, which added to the £2,000 already raised by the club has put it well on the way to the £11,000 required for the ground improvements.

Tom said an auction of promises planned for the autumn will hopefully see the club reach its target. Anyone wishing to sponsor Tom and Mark can still do so at localgiving.com/charity/ cernevalleycricketclub or can drop donations in at K Shoes in Dorchester’s Tudor Arcade.