Jack Forster, 33, and Alex Forster, 31, are looking to raise £170,000 for stroke unit within the Royal Bournemouth Hospital.
DS: Hi Jack, this is such an epic challenge. Tell me a bit about yourself and what made you decide to compete in Race Across America 2022?
Jack: “Around five years ago, I took part in a 1000-mile charity bike ride from London to Nice, where I raised money for the Royal Marines – my father and brother Alex both served in the Royal Marines. I enjoyed the challenge of the event, but I felt I still had more to give, so I started looking for something new; this is where I came across Race Across America – known as RAAM. I have been chasing this dream/challenge for four years, and it is finally the right time to do it. It is a self-funded event which means we need to supply everything from the entry fee, insurance, cars, petrol, signage, lights, and teams – as you need to take a crew.”
Race Across America is one of the most respected and longest-running ultra-endurance events in the world. RAAM is seen as a pinnacle of athletic achievement not only in cycling circles but the greater sporting community as well. The race is 3175 miles long, crossing 12 states, climbing in total, 170,000 feet of elevation – nearly seven times higher than Mount Everest. Within eight days, you must finish the race.
DS: When is the challenge, who are you racing with, and what support team will you bring?
Jack: “The event starts on Saturday 18th June 2022. I am part of a two-man cycling team with my brother Alex. We will both bring a team of four people who will look after our every need over the eight days. Alex and I will tag team race across America. We will need two vehicles – a follow car will sit behind the rider and will handle route navigation, team communication, tactics and technical backup – all while driving at high speed. Behind that will be another car/truck that will hold the other rider and the remaining team members – consisting of a mechanic, physio, and videographer, to name a few. If one of the riders sustains an injury, we can continue to compete, but it would then become a one-man race.”
DS: What training have you been doing?
Jack: “Next month I will be getting a specific bike coach for the event. RAAM training is all about endurance; averaging 150-200 miles a week, 3 to 5 rides a week, 20, 40 and 80 miles. The longer rides are going to be coming in October and November.”
DS: How do you get time to train, work, and be a dad?
Jack is co-owner of E-motion Fitness Hub in Poole and has recently become a father for the first time.
Jack: “I have an understanding fiancé. My brother also has two children, so we end up riding at 5 am or at 8 pm for a couple of hours. But as we go further into training, the rides will get longer – 8-to-10-hour rides over 200 miles. We will be averaging 400-500 miles a day during RAAM. It is a big challenge.”
DS: You must have a very determined mindset to undertake a challenge of this magnitude?
Jack: “Yes. We are fully committed to this challenge. We must deliver, we have a responsibility to the sponsors who are helping to fund the trip, and we do not want to let them down. Also, the money raised will buy life-changing equipment. The pressure is on us – but this is our driving force.”
DS: How do your family feel about you taking on this challenge?
Jack: “Alex and I are very blessed to have an incredibly supportive family who has given us their full backing. However, I do have an 8-week-old son called Kobi. I am lucky to have a very understanding fiancé Hannah – she is very supportive, but it can be tough when we both have sleepless nights, which is why I am precise on how and where I train. She understands the end goal with what I am trying to give back to the community. For the next 8-9 months, I must work, ride a bike and be a dad – that is it! Social parties have stopped. I do not drink anymore. I eat clean, good carbs – mostly, I am fully committed. Alex and I are not your typical cyclists. You no longer have to be 30kg to ride a bike – you can be in the 100kg club and cycle 3000 miles across America!”
DS: Tell us why you specifically decided to raise money to buy a ‘Walkabot’ for the stroke unit within Royal Bournemouth Hospital?
Jack: “One of the members at our gym has a senior role at the stroke unit; I have been coaching her for many years, so we have formed a bond and talk about the work they do there. We also have a personal connection to the ward. The kit we are raising money for enables a higher chance of recovery from a stroke. The walkabout will help the patient gain up to 10,000 more steps a day without putting their body under severe pressure and strain. There is currently only one of these in the UK – in the North of England. It will change thousands of people’s lives.
DS: What type of charity fundraisers will you be doing in the run-up to the event?
Jack: “On the 13th of November 2021, we have a charity fundraiser at the gym – E-motion Fitness Hub. Alex and I will be taking part in a 24hr watt bike ride. We will have another bike at the gym, where you can pay £10 to ride with us. We are also in the process of organising a black-tie event; full details are coming soon.”
Please come along and support Jack and Alex on their mission to raise vital funds for the stroke ward at Bournemouth Hospital; your donation could help someone in your local community when they need it the most.
Jack and Alex would like to say a big thanks to their sponsor County Epos. They are still looking for additional sponsorship to help fund their epic cycle across America. If you are an individual or company who would like to get involved, please email Jack for further details firstname.lastname@example.org
In the week of racing, RAAM produces 25-30 million views. Jack and Alex also have links with BBC South Today, The Daily Echo, and Bournemouth and Poole Hospitals.
You can donate by clicking on the link https://uk.gofundme.com/f/jack-and-alex-take-on-race-across-america-2022