Three superfit Northern Ireland triathletes have successfully completed one of the toughest challenges of their lives for charity.
Bob Davison, from Cookstown, his cousin Keith Clarke, from Dungannon, and Andrew Hassard, from Ballyclare, fought through fatigue with an iron will to complete an amazing mammoth triathlon each day for 10 days in aid of Cancer Focus Northern Ireland, the new name for the Ulster Cancer Foundation.
The gruelling Decaman triathlon took place at Eskragh Lough, Dungannon, from 6th – 15th July. The men swam 24 miles (further than the English channel), cycled 1,120 miles (four times the length ofIreland) and ran 262 miles (or 10 Belfast marathons) all in 10 days.
Other participants undertook their own personal challenges in cycling, swimming and running to help raise vital funds the Cancer Focus Northern Ireland Men’s Health campaign.
In total, 12 people completed an Iron Distance challenge, 13 completed their first half Iron Distance, 7 completed their first marathon, 6 completed their first half marathon, 35 completed an Iron distance cycle and 32 completed an Iron distance swim.
The whole event is expected to raise a massive £10,000 for the charity.
Keith (35), who is married with two children, Lance (3) and Madison (1), said, “The Decaman was like no other challenge I’ve done and tested my mental and physical strength to the limit. I can’t believe I’m still standing, but I had set my mind to the task and was determined to finish it.
“I had to have shin splints on my right leg and my left knee was badly swollen. One night I didn’t get to bed until 3.30am and had to be up again at 6am. When I was feeling exhausted, the support I got from my family and friends kept me going. I also wanted to finish for all the people who had sponsored me in aid of Cancer Focus.”
Recently married, Bob Davison (34), who bravely signed up for the challenge, said, “It was definitely a tough challenge and the bad weather didn’t make it any easier for us. An old Achilles tendon problem flared up on the second day which didn’t help either, but we all motored on.
“I feel I have achieved something I never thought I would. If the mind wants to do something, the body will follow – that’s half the battle.
“l can’t thank my family and friends enough for all their support and the public for coming out to cheer us on.”
Andrew, who works for Chain Reaction Cycles, has always been keen on sports and previously took part in a Four Peaks Challenge for Cancer Focus. He said: “I was expecting it to be an absolute buster, and it was. One of the toughest parts was going round and round the same circuits, knowing it had to be done again the next day. It did get a bit monotonous. After that it was a matter of mind over matter to keep on going. I can’t quite believe we did it!
“I was a bit sore and swollen for a few days after the event and all I wanted to do was sleep, but I got over it. The sense of achievement is amazing and it is still sinking in.
“I’m really grateful to all those who have supported us and I’m totally humbled by the donations which have come in over the last few weeks. This will raise vital funds for Cancer Focus, which does so much excellent work with cancer patients and their family’s right across Northern Ireland.”
Cancer Focus Fundraising Officer Paul O’Gara said, “Everyone at Cancer Focus is so impressed with the achievement of these three men – and all the members of the public who took part in a variety of sporting events during the ten days. We would like to thank everyone who took part or helped in anyway to make this a brilliant fundraiser.
“Cancer has a major impact on the health of men in Northern Ireland. Each year around 4,000 men are diagnosed with some form of the disease – that’s a shocking statistic.
“All the money raised at this event will go towards our men’s health campaign which aims to minimise the impact of cancer among men. We bring fitness and health programmes such as smoking cessation clinics and Male Quick Fit checks into workplaces, and have a full range of counselling and support services for men and their families, a confidential helpline, and art and creative writing therapy.”
Cancer Focus Fundraising Officer Paul O’Gara said, “This was a tremendous achievement for all concerned. The three Decamen finished their round of activity between 11pm and 3am each day, and as the days went on the men got slower, which meant less sleep. They had to be up and in the lake at 7am or they would be disqualified. There where days when they were only getting two hours sleep,” he said.
“All the money raised at this event will go towards our men’s health campaign which aims to minimise the impact of cancer among men. Cancer has a major impact on the health of men in Northern Ireland. Each year around 4,000 men are diagnosed with some form of the disease – that’s a shocking statistic.
“Cancer Focus brings fitness and health programmes such as smoking cessation clinics and Male Quick Fit checks into workplaces, and has a full range of counselling and support services for men and their families, a confidential helpline, and art and creative writing therapy.
“Everyone from Trilimts and Cancer Focus Northern Ireland would like to congratulate and thank everyone who completed their personal goals to raise funds for cancer patients.”
Paul added, “I would particularly like to offer a huge thank you to Robert, Keith and Andrew for completing this incredible challenge, which was full of highs and lows. All three suffered many injuries and ailments throughout the ten days but they showed enormous courage and determination to get to the finish line to become Decamen. I would also like to thank all the sponsors, especially Awen Sports and BodyLab NI who took care of first aid and massage for all the athletes, plus the support crews which were tremendous.”
The event is sponsored by Chain Reaction Cycles, High 5, Gatorade, Compressport, ZeroD, Elite Timing (the chosen timing partner for the NI.Decaman Challenge), JJ Ballantine and Co Insurance Services, Performance Nutrition Plus and Awen Sport.
You can still help raise funds for Cancer Focus by texting DECA10 £x amount to 70070 or follow us on Facebook. For further information please contact Paul O’Gara at Cancer Focus on 07585 956 807 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
For further information or interviews with participants please contact:
Pauline Wylie, PR & Events Manager, Cancer Focus on
028 9066 3281 / 07810 371118
Marie Foy, PR & Events Officer, Cancer Focus on
028 9066 3281 / 07736 358692