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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 March 2008, 11:34 GMT
Rise to the challenge for Sport Relief

Support James Cracknell in his amazing Sport Relief challenge
Double Olympic rowing gold medallist James Cracknell's amazing Sport Relief cross-continent challenge from the UK to Africa continues.

Cracknell has now completed an astonishing 1,365 miles since he left the UK last Wednesday.

He managed an amazing 300 Miles in one day, and is now well into southern Spain on day eight of the challenge.

The last leg will see him swimming the Straits of Gibraltar with Little Britain star David Walliams.

Cracknell's challenge started in dramatic fashion as he capsized his modified coastal scull just metres into the first leg of his amazing challenge.

Sir Steve Redgrave joked on BBC Breakfast "he has started his swim a little bit too early".

But Redgrave added that his gold medal-winning team-mate had done very well to complete the crossing.

"The water conditions were extremely difficult, it was choppy to say the least, so he did really well."

Cracknell completed his 22-mile Channel crossing in just over six hours and ended day one in Berk having completed an impressive 62 miles.

Stage two of the trip will sees him cycling 1,400 miles through France and Spain down to Gibraltar.

From there he will be joined by Walliams to swim the treacherous Strait of Gibraltar all the way to Morocco.

Cracknell spoke to this website before his departure and explained the reasons for his extraordinary efforts.

"It will be the most intense and testing week of exercise I have ever done, but the motivation is absolutely huge.

"It's not like the Olympics where you are doing it for yourself, the big motivation is that you are doing it for others.

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"A little money goes a long way in the poorest parts of the world so everybody is capable of helping in some way.

"The point I am trying to make is that Africa is not far away - if I can get there in a week or so, it will show people that these problems are not a million miles away from us.

"The best thing about Sport Relief is that you can help them and get yourself fit and healthy at the same time."

Cracknell needs to time his challenge precisely to ensure favourable conditions for the final swim, and he aims to finish in just seven days.

Throughout the challenge Cracknell will only be stopping to rest for four hours in every 24 hours.

The ultimate aim is to raise as much money as possible for Sport Relief and you can show your support for him by making a donation to Sport Relief.

Cracknell has been getting some useful swimming tips from Walliams, who raised more than 1m for Sport Relief by swimming across the English Channel in 2006.

Cracknell (L) and Walliams will swim the Strait of Gibraltar
Cracknell and Walliams will swim the Strait of Gibraltar

They both battled freezing weather conditions for their first open-water training session at Dorney Lake in Windsor in January when they were shown no mercy by trainer Professor Greg Whyte.

Cracknell said: "We hyperventilated when we first got in the water because it was so cold and after that your whole body just goes numb.

"I'm going to need all the help I can get by the end of this challenge and David is a real pro so having him there on the day will be a massive boost."

'There's going to be sharks'

The 36-year-old Little Britain star, who plans to swim the 12-mile stretch of the Strait of Gibraltar, said that although the distance is shorter than the Channel there would be other problems to face.

"It's colder and there's sharks in it and also the sea's a lot rougher, so I think it's going to be a very challenging swim," he said.

This year the big Sport Relief buzz word is 'challenge' and the idea is to do something sporty to raise cash.

The ultimate way to get involved is to take part in one of the Sainsbury's Sport Relief Miles which are happening across the UK on 16 March.

This year, participants can set their own challenge by having the choice of completing one, three or six miles. There will be well over 200 Sport Relief Miles around the UK, so there is bound to be one close to you. All you have to do now is sign up and start getting yourself sponsored.

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