Sep 26, 2019

Challenge Sahara was John Farnworth’s goal of crossing the Sahara Desert while keeping a football under control the whole way. Over the course of seven days John managed to cross the Sahara Desert. The first three days he experienced extremely bad wind and sandstorms, so he couldn’t travel that far. This meant he had to travel more than 31 miles (50 km) on the final two days for a total of 62 miles (100 km) from start to finish to achieve a World Record for the feat.

This is not the first World Record John and his football have received, though. He holds seven Guinness World Record titles, including the highest altitude climbed in one hour with a football on Mount Everest, the highest football volley dropped from altitude, and the longest time controlling a ball on an elevated slack line. He’s also asked GoPro to join one of his stunts before, when he freestyled with Kieran Brown while suspended from a hot air balloon.

We caught up with John to get the DL on Challenge Sahara. Check it out.

GoPro: How did you come up with the idea for Challenge Sahara?

John: I’ve done other endurance challenges in the past such as the London marathon and Mount Everest with the ball, and it seemed like the next challenge for me was to cross a desert, that’s when I started thinking about the biggest one – the Sahara Desert.

Did you set out to break another Guinness World Record?

Yes! A huge part of the challenge was to break a Guinness World Record, it was the perfect setting (even though tough on the sand!!) to do the record. There’s lots of open space in the Sahar - so much that it can get scary to think about how far you really are from any civilization.

What was the hardest part of the challenge?

The hardest part were the sandstorms! It was incredibly tough to control the ball with all the wind and sand blowing in my face, it was a completely different wind than what I am used to. We had to just get on with it and cover most of the ground over the last two days as the wind finally subsided.

Did anything unexpected happen along the way?

The unexpected element was how the wind could come and go randomly, and there was no shelter or alternative route. Thanks to the Under Armour support, I was well equipped and able to continue despite the harsh weather conditions.

How did you capture your journey?

We captured the journey on the GoPro because it’s easy to use and provides great image quality. In the morning before we left, the team would set up the cameras and then we were good to go for the day! We didn’t have to worry about the cameras getting damaged in the sand because they are so rugged, and because they are so small, they didn’t hinder me in anyway.

Did you think it was going to be this hard?

I knew it would be tough, but it was harder than I first thought! I trained and prepared as much as possible back home, but it’s always going to be more challenging when you are in a new unknown environment.

What did the charity element include and what´s the outcome?

We were raising money for Derian House, which is a children’s hospice in the U.K. I wanted to use this challenge to raise money and awareness for the hospice so that they can continue to care for and support severely sick children. Doing this record and challenge made it all worthwhile knowing that we were making a difference for young people that really do need care and support.