Tech CEO hopes to become world record holder by roller skating 500 miles from Edinburgh to London in six days
A tech CEO plans to break a world record by roller skating 500 miles from Edinburgh to London in six days to raise money for charity.
Liam Chennells, 33, an ex-rugby player who is now the CEO of tech company Detected, and is based in London, plans to become a Guinness World Record holder this July and also hopes to raise £100k for Future Frontiers, a charity that supports young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Liam roller skated as a child after being inspired by his mother who once auditioned for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 1984 musical on wheels, Starlight Express.
Always open to adventure, last year Liam motorbiked around Scotland and cycled from London to Paris, but he only put on his first pair of adult skates in September 2022.
He is now training for his 500-mile skating challenge on July 1, skating from Edinburgh and finishing in London six days later.
There is no current record set for long-distance roller skating, so he will be setting a new standard, and Liam is skating around 100 miles a week as he prepares for the challenge.
“I knew that if I was going to ask people for money then I had to do something ridiculous,” he said.
“I loved roller skating when I was young but after taking up rugby, I wasn’t able to do it anymore.
“What better way to get back into it than to skate from Edinburgh to London in aid of charity?”
For Liam, roller skating was a childhood pastime that had taken a backseat after becoming a rugby player.
He said: “My mum was always a keen roller skater, she even auditioned for Starlight Express, and she made sure we always had a pair of skates growing up.
“As I got older, I would skate on ramps and entered competitions, but as I got more into rugby, skating became less of a priority.”
Receiving a rugby scholarship, Liam could not take part in extreme sports as it would be an injury risk.
It was not until September 2022, that Liam picked up another pair of skates following a motorbike trip around Scotland.
The tech CEO completed the North Coast 500, a 500-mile coastal road trip route in the north of Scotland, and a week later, he cycled from London to Paris.
Liam said: “I had so much fun doing it and I started thinking about other adventurous things I wanted to complete.”
In November, Liam swam under ice at a retreat in northern Sweden, where he says he started to plan his world record-breaking challenge.
“I have fond memories of skating as a child and thought I could take on a roller skating challenge to raise money for charity,” he said.
“Doing the 500-mile journey on a motorbike was hard and I thought it’d be really hard on skates.
“So originally the plan was to roller skate the North Coast 500, but my insurance wouldn’t cover me for skating on mountains.”
So, Liam changed his route, and now he plans to roller skate the distance from Edinburgh to London in the hopes of raising £100k for Future Frontiers.
The charity works with schools and businesses across the UK to provide a programme of coaching and access to professional role models for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
“Kids from disadvantaged backgrounds particularly struggle with getting the grades needed for college and university and they end up falling behind,” Liam said.
He added: “Without rugby, I probably would have been one of those kids so it’s a charity that is very important to me and one that I’m massively passionate about.”
Liam says the charity is a huge motivator for him as he gears up to start his challenge, which he hopes will take him just six days to complete.
He said: “I haven’t thought too much about it, that’s the sort of person I am. It is just mind over matter.”
He added: “I think you have to have that mindset to start a business. I think that resilience and tenacity is probably a defining characteristic of being a CEO.
“When I go to schools and speak to kids, it’s this energy that I want to demonstrate to help them see how more is possible if you just put your mind to it.
“Some people have asked if the challenge has been a distraction from work, but I think it’s actually given me even more focus at work because having something else outside of my job that I am working on is really healthy.”
“It’s given me a separate focus that I have fitted in around my work schedule.”
Liam plans to start his challenge in Edinburgh on July 1, 2023, finishing in London around six days later.
Liam will be accompanied by his friend, Simon Marlin, who is part of the duo The Shapeshifters, and will be driving behind him in an RV, and Liam will also have more friends joining him along the way.
“None of my friends were surprised when I told them about this challenge, they all know me too well,” he added.
“Some of them will be cycling part of the distance with me and I’ve arranged for different people to join me along the way.
“I train daily anyway, I’m just in that habit from playing rugby, so it’s not been too life-altering to have to factor in training for this challenge, but there is a sense of pressure that I need to smash this now that I’ve told everyone I’m doing it.”
He added: “There’s no doubt in my mind that I will complete it and I will become a world record holder. If I tell myself I can do it, then I can.”
To donate to Liam’s fundraiser in support of Future Frontiers, visit: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/liam-chennells