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24 Hour Human Hamster Wheel Challenge

At Cadtek we love to hear what innovative, interesting and sometimes insane products our customers are creating in SOLIDWORKS and Dean Ovel from Coborn Engineering’s latest stunt is no different.

On the 21st of May 2016, Dean began a 24 hour run raising money for Southend Hospital’s Dementia Appeal. Now running for 24 hours straight is a challenge in itself, but when you add the aspect of running the whole distance inside a human hamster wheel the challenge takes on a whole new level.

The Challenge – To run inside a 6ft human hamster wheel for 24 hours

The Challenger – Dean Ovel (Runner and general SOLIDWORKS geek)

The Cause – Southend Hospital’s Dementia Appeal

The wheel is enclosed inside a 2m high cage, at the top of the Southend high street. So what made Dean decide on this and how on earth did he get hold of a 6ft hamster wheel? Well, being an accomplished SOLIDWORKS user, the giant hamster wheel was the easy bit.

“In 2014 I ran 10 marathons in eight days, and during that I came up with a couple of ideas of what would be next. This was the most ridiculous.”

Dean is not shy of a few miles, recently joining a group that take part in 100+ mile ultra events. However, a giant hamster wheel isn’t something you can purchase from your local sports equipment specialist. So he turned to SOLIDWORKS, with some help from his son, for the design and build.

“Well it started with some sketches over a coffee with my son one Saturday morning early this year, and by the end of the week I had taken those sketches, modelled it in SOLIDWORKS and was applying to the council for permission to hold the event. It was all possible using the detailed drawings I created from the SOLIDWORKS drawing. We built a prototype in Lego to demonstrate the principle for those who could not picture it in 3D, but I have to say that I have sent the html eDrawings version to various people which have worked a treat!”

SOLIDWORKS Hamster Wheel

So how did he get on?

See for yourself below in Southend Hospital’s coverage of the event;

Total Raised…so far – £7,500

Target – £10,000

In his own words…

The challenge

I started brightly and covered off the first marathon (26.2 miles) a little too quickly, and soon became aware of a nagging pulling on one of my toes. In my haste to get set-up on the morning, I’d forgotten one of the most important rules of Ultra-distance running – Footcare. Fortunately I’d caught it early enough, or it would have been a painful 19 hours to the finish. Onwards you furry freak!

The support over the weekend was fantastic, with so much interest from the passing public, my immense team of helpers quickly filled their donation buckets, had an endless stream of people cycling next to me on the bikes and we went in to the night on a high. There is generally only one way to go from here though, and as the last of the revellers dispersed into the shadows cast by the full moon, 4am came and I hit my lowest point of the event. Quite possibly the closest I have ever come to quitting something. It took a lot of effort from my overnight crew, made up of my closest friends and family, to pull me from the depths. Oh, and four hash browns, an egg muffin and a coffee from the McDonalds across the high street.

Back on the wheel, and with an early morning film quiz hosted by my good friend Mark, I was feeling positive again for the final 6 hour stretch, and what transpired to be another marathon. The final 2 hours were without doubt, crazy. With hundreds watching at the end, 4 or 5 photographers and reporters and a Jazz band knocking out some classic tunes, I managed a crowd pleasing sprint finish to clock a total of 80.96 miles, in layman’s terms, over 3 marathons.

While it might not have been as far as some had estimated and I have covered on trail races, I note that every step in the wheel is the equivalent to a 100mm rise, and with an average 6 steps per revolution, and 19835 revolutions of the wheel making up the 81 mile distance, that equals climbing Mt. Everest from base camp over 3 times. Fortunately, snow, ice, wind, freezing temperatures, altitude sickness and a lack of oxygen were not a problem in Southend High Street. We did have some entertaining moments overnight though!

Since the event I have had people looking at me walking around thinking either “there’s no way he ran 81 miles over the weekend”, or more likely “well if he looks ok after that, why should I bother donating”. Believe me when I say, I was in agony. While the visible physical demands were not showing to any extent, my body was telling me I exceeded ‘normal use’ over the weekend. However the mental side of the challenge and the after-effects are the toughest to overcome, and combined I think it’ll be a few weeks before I am feeling myself again.

I left a lot of me in THAT wheel!

All in all, it was all very humbling and dare I say it, enjoyable. I am not sure the wheel will feature much again in my life, but the experience it gave me will live with me, my friends, and my family for a while. Well, until the next challenge anyway.

– Dean Ovel (Coborn Engineering)

What Now?

To help reach and hopefully surpass Dean’s target of £10,000 the Human Hamster Wheel will be auctioned off. A friend of Dean’s, Elisabet Barnes, came over to try the wheel before the event and kindly signed it next to her own logo. Elisabet is a professional Ultra runner and won MdS 2015 (Marathon des Sables) among other World class races.


Top Effort Dean!

To follow Dean’s progress and to support his appeal you can find his JustGiving page at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Human-Hamster and follow his journey on twitter @human_hamster16

For further news, hints and tips on SOLIDWORKS CAD follow us on twitter at https://twitter.com/Cadtek

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