“World’s hardest triathlon” helps injured veterans find purpose

Jodie Kidd, centre right with Help for Heroes athletes prior to setting off from Marble Arch, London, to take part in the Enduroman Arch to Arc challenge.
Jodie Kidd, centre right with Help for Heroes athletes prior to setting off from Marble Arch, London, to take part in the Enduroman Arch to Arc challenge.
0
Have your say

Injured veterans and servicemen and women from across Britain, including six from Yorkshire, have set off on the “hardest triathlon in the world” from London to Paris.

The 24 competitors are using a wheelchair for the run, from Marble Arch in the capital to the south coast, while others will pedal a hand cycle with their arms from Calais to Paris, finishing at the Arc de Triomphe after a total of 300 gruelling miles.

They are also battling currents and weather as they swim the English Channel - leaving from Shakespeare Beach below the white cliffs of Dover - as they restore a sense of purpose to lives changed by traumatic injuries from improvised explosives in Afghanistan or other conditions, according to organisers the Help for Heroes sports recovery organisation.

Anna Pollock, from Catterick, Sean Donlan, from Cleckheaton, Caroline Buckle and her husband Ray, from Barnsley, Rob Cromey-Hawke, from Cowling, near Skipton, Paul Wilson, from Bradford and Sarah Jones, from Hull, are taking part.

A Captain with the Royal Engineers, Rob Cromey-Hawke was injured during a tour of Afghanistan in 2012, damaging his back.

He also suffered hearing loss and a brain injury, which has left him with memory and concentration problems, as well as balance, dizziness and light sensitivity issues after his vehicle drove over an Improvised Explosive Device.

Help for Heroes arranged a return to sport for the keen triathlete by funding a high-performance recumbent trike as well as a racing wheelchair, which he will use during the challenge.

Dean Middleton, 30, a former member of the Parachute Regiment from Seaham Harbour, County Durham, suffered a serious brain injury while serving in Afghanistan in 2010 when his armoured vehicle was hit by a Taliban bomb.

He said: “Any of the guys will tell you the most frustrating thing when you’re a physically active soldier is having to sit around not doing anything.

“I like to think seeing me and hearing my story gives the lads coming in some hope.”

Mr Middleton suffered his injury in the Bowri desert in central Helmand and surgeons had to cut half his skull away. He had been due to attempt selection for the SAS the following year but was discharged as his problem-solving ability had been affected.

The 24 wounded, injured and sick military personnel and veterans on the Enduroman Arch to Arc challenge are running 87 miles from Marble Arch to Dover, swim the English Channel, then cycle 181 miles to Arc de Triomphe. The four teams of six are expected to finish from tomorrow morning.