Dunwoody wants a good dinner after finishing charity trek
Richard Dunwoody is looking forward to returning home to girlfriend Olivia and daughter Milly after completing the gruelling 2,000-mile hike from the southernmost tip of Japan's four main islands to its northernmost in the latest of the extreme challenges he has undertaken since retiring from the saddle.
The three-time champion jumps jockey, whose previous expeditions have taken him to both the South Pole and North Pole, and to many more remote destinations in between, was raising money for the bone and soft tissue cancer charity Sarcoma UK and he hopes his target of £25,000 will have been met, and exceeded, once all pledges are in.
He hopes also to have raised general awareness of both the charity and the disease itself – one close to his heart since his nephew George Pearce, who competed in the Junior World Rowing Championships in 2014, is fighting an aggressive form of it.
Recounting his experience from Cape Soya, at the tip of the island of Hokkaido, having set off in late February from Cape Sata, the most southerly point of the Osumi Peninsula of Kyushu island, he said on Tuesday: "It's been an incredible experience, as you can imagine, and also a humbling one. I'll never forget the kindness and generosity of the Japanese as I have travelled through their country.
"I've covered over 2,000 miles in 101 days, and that's pretty much what I thought it would take. Google maps have been a big help, although they've also taken me over the hills on some interesting routes once or twice.
"For probably 80 per cent of it I've been on my own, but I've had some welcome visitors from England, including Diana Cooper [former Godolphin spokeswoman, and a key suppporter in the venture], my girlfriend Olivia, and Jeremy Hoare, the photographer, and also some people from the Japanese racing world.
"The worst of it has been walking through tunnels on the main roads. Some of them have been up to two kilometers long, and they were pretty hairy, but the last bit has been through nice farming country and it's done now.
"I'm looking forward to going for a good dinner with friends and then its back to Sapporo and on home from Tokyo next week."
Dunwoody, who has carried his 20 kilos of luggage every step of the way, and both maintained and published a photographic journal throughout, added: "I've kept in touch with George through the journey and spoken with him now and again. He's been having treatment pretty much non-stop for 20 months now and it will continue until July.
"He's having chemo every week and it's very tough for him, but although he's not well at the weekends after treatment he's taken it all incredibly well and has continued his studies at Oxford Brookes throughout.
"My hike has been mentally and physically tough at times but it has been nothing to what he's had to endure.
"He certainly has been a huge inspiration when things became a touch difficult and I hope and pray that in the very near future he can make a full recovery from this terrible disease.
"This has all been about supporting Sarcoma UK and raising general awareness about the disease. We've raised a good bit, but we could do with raising a good bit more."