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Kent trio takes on epic rowing and cycling challenge to raise funds for us


Two men have set themselves the epic cycling challenge of riding from Kent to the top of the Austrian Alps, finishing at on the mountaintop of Zauchensee to raise funds for Diabetes UK. A third man will ‘match’ their challenge on a static rowing machine.

Karl Royer, 56, and his friend Simon Smith, 56, who both live near Herne Bay, will cross the Alps twice during the epic 1,200-mile journey which will start on Monday, 12 June.

They have plotted a cycling challenge route from England through France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland and Lichtenstein before arriving in Austria around a fortnight after they started.

Meanwhile, a third friend, Olaf Throndsen, 57, who works in property management and lives in nearby Birchington on Sea, has also joined in the challenge in a different way, rowing 10km a day on a static rower to match Karl and Simon’s efforts.

He started his part of the challenge in February and aims to “virtually arrive” on the same day as his friends, having put in 1,200 rowing miles.

Karl, a software engineer, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1974 on his eighth birthday. Simon, a gardener, has known him for many years and has seen how he has managed the condition over many years.

Karl said:

“A lot has changed in the time I have lived with diabetes, but more funding is needed for research to find a cure and help with new treatments.

“I want to help with that and over the years have wondered how long it would take to cycle from my home to the Austrian Alps - a journey I’ve done in the car several times.

“My neighbour Simon said he would join me on the challenge and we were busy planning the journey back in 2020 but obviously couldn’t do it because of Covid and lockdowns. I also lost my father at that time and had health problems.

“There have been further challenges since with injuries including the need for eye surgery recently but our training continued throughout and we are now really looking forward to getting on the road.”

Alex Melham, Community Fundraising Manager for the South East Coast and London Region of Diabetes UK, said:

“Karl set himself an amazing challenge - and huge thanks to Simon and Olaf for joining in and helping to make it happen. We’ll look forward to tracking their progress and we wish them the best of luck.”

Karl has a JustGiving page at Karl Royer is fundraising for Diabetes UK (

He will also chart progress on a blog -

Olaf’s progress can be tracked here - 

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