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Squash lovers Alex Preston and Michael Pearce aim to play non-stop for 40 hours in world record charity bid

Alan Thatcher
Alan Thatcherhttps://squashmad.com
Founder of World Squash Day, Squash Mad, the Kent Open and co-promoter of the Canary Wharf Classic. Launched the Squash 200 Partnership to build clubs of the future. Talks a bit.

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By ALAN THATCHER (Squash Mad Editor)

Squash lovers Alex Preston and Michael Pearce are attempting to break the world record for the longest-ever squash marathon.

They take to the court at Tring Squash Club in Hertfordshire at 4am on Friday (September 16) and aim to play for 40 continuous hours!

Alex and Michael are raising money for the Florence Nightingale Hospice Charity based in Aylesbury.

This awe-inspiring effort is in tribute to Alex’s late mother, Pam, who built Thame Squash Club in Oxfordshire in the 1970s.

Alex won the British Over-35 title in 2017, captained the England over-35 team, and reached 229 on the PSA Tour while playing as an amateur. Nowadays he plays county squash for Bucks.

He takes up the story: “It’s madness, total madness! Michael and I are attempting to break the world record for the longest ever squash marathon.

“I’d say that Mike talked me into it using his silky and persuasive tones (he did) but that’s only half the story. I’ve been around squash my whole life and have much to be thankful for with regards to this.

“I grew up within Thame Squash Club in the 80s and 90s including a stint of actually living in the building. Squash has given me a great social life and a competitive outlet no matter where in the world my wife Joanne and I have travelled to or lived.

“I’ve gained a world of experience and character from squash and want to see how I can use this to give back.

The squash marathon is in tribute to Alex Preston’s mother Pam (pictured here in London) who built Thame Squash Club in 1975

“My motivation in this stems from losing my amazing Mum last year to cancer. She provided everything to me and my siblings including building that Thame Squash Club with raw spirit and determination, at enormous financial risk to herself and my older siblings in 1975.

“Not going to lie, the training has been fun and it’s been good to knuckle down on fitness, strength and squash training after a lacklustre return season after covid lockdowns. The challenge itself, however, at a target of 40 continuous hours of play, is going to be brutal.

“This is where support from squash lovers would be really helpful, either in person over the event cheering with a beer, watching our live feed broadcast, or sponsoring.

“We are raising money for the Florence Nightingale Hospice Charity where my mum spent some of her last days.”

Let’s hope Alex and Michael are still in good shape and still smiling after 40 hours on court at Tring Squash Club

During their training, they began with six-hour sessions on court and Alex said: “We to the court for six hours training, playing each other (of course) and some members of Tring Squash Club. It was a great insight to see how we can manage the main event itself, from when to get a break, squeezing in a shower, changing trainers, T-shirts….. it’s mammoth!

“Six hours seems quite manageable, but 40 continuous hours of playing squash will be a different beast. I’m unsure where the greatest challenge on the day(s) will lie, be it mental, physical, motivational or likely a combination of all three.

“I know that the preparation is key and we will be prepared. Prepared to have the live stream running, clothing, equipment, officials, referees, witnesses and one of the most important, nutrition. We have a plan down to the nearest calorie!

“It’s standard squash training for the most part which has been great. I’ve done two (running) half marathons recently. More specifically we have done three mini squash marathons with Mike, and one involving club members to get them involved. We’ve done sessions lasting four, five and six hours.

“We both play at Tring Squash Club, but we met on the first day of secondary school at Aylesbury Grammar School. We do work in the same field and we have employed him as a contractor, and his wife (I introduced them way back when) has recently joined my company Intrepid though so we’re all close.”

As for who might emerge the winner after 40 hours, Alex revealed: “Mike has beaten me once, but we have played a lot!”

Current squash record holders Len Granger and Jamie Barnett who recorded 38 hours in 2015

As part of the preparation Michael decided to stay awake for 40 hours to see how he would feel. He revealed: “It provided some valuable insights into the sleep deprivation element of the challenge. The 30-hour mark was the most difficult where the body really wanted to switch off. With a record attempt of this length, it’s not just about being able to play squash for a long time, there are mental and physical aspects to prepare for.”

Alex added: “The attempt will be from 4am on Friday 16th Sept to (hopefully) around 8pm the following day at Tring Squash Club. Supporters at the club are welcome and there is an overnight team squashathon on Friday night (8am-8pm) and a party to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Tring Squash Club on Saturday as well.

“All donations will help raise funds for a bladder scanner, which will be used to help treat a variety of patients in the Hospice to reduce the risk of infections.

“The cost of a hospital grade bladder scanner is around £7,500. So far more than £3,000 has been raised by 76 supporters towards the £8,000 target.”

The Guinness Book of Records lists the longest marathon playing squash (singles) is 38 hours 0 min 27 sec and was achieved by Len Granger and Jamie Barnett (both UK), at Barnt Green Sports Club in Barnt Green, Worcestershire, between September 4-5, 2015.

JustGiving page

Alex says:
If you are able to sponsor even in a small way, we and the good people at Florence will be eternally grateful. Here is the link to the Just Giving page  

Pictures courtesy of Alex Preston and Guinness World Of Records


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