Arthur Puckrin, triathlete and barrister

Arthur Puckrin, who has died at 80, was not only a Middlesbrough barrister of long standing but also a sportsman who set 33 world records and was thrice crowned World Triathlon Champion.
Arthur PuckrinArthur Puckrin
Arthur Puckrin

He competed in endurance events for most of his adult life, and his titles ranged from runner-up in the World Coal Carrying Championships, to winning the Deca-Ironman contest in Mexico, whose contestants were required to complete 24 miles of swimming, 1,120 miles of cycling and 262 miles of running, in the space of 10 days.

In the process of taking the 2010 title, he broke 11 world records.

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Burn in Middlesbrough a year before the outbreak of the Second World War, his earliest memories were of the nightly visits by the Luftwaffe, whose attempts to reduce the town to rubble were concentrated mainly on the fish and chip shop 500 yards from his house – “a dastardly attempt to cut off out food supply”, he said.

The ration diet of bread and potatoes was to stand him in good stead for his later endeavours. Much later, he said that he could complete a Triple Ironman contest on little food and without feeling hungry.

Excelling at sport, he ran the mile to school each morning and back at lunchtime, repeating the feat for afternoon classes.

His values, he said, came from the scouts and the Methodist Church.

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At 11, he gained a scholarship for Middlesbrough High School, which introduced him to rugby, a game that was to remain a lifelong passion.

But money was in short supply, and after his GCEs, he joined the police as a cadet, and persuaded his superiors to let him compete in the force Cross Country Championships. He won the area championships for seven straight years.

Continuing to run and cycle over long distances, he attempted the Lyke Wake Walk in 1955, a 40 mile crossing of the North York Moors from Osmotherly to the North Sea. Two years later, he set a record for the route which stood for three decades.

He also added records for the Cleveland Way and the Pennine Way, and won the 45-mile Four Inns Walk in Derbyshire, three times in succession.

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Deciding that if he could run over the fells he could also do so on the roads, he took on the London to Brighton event, then the Ultra Running World Championships.

In 1966, he qualified as a barrister, but the work did not detract from his track activities. He beat 50 horses over 44 miles at the Wolsingham Horse Trials in Bishop Auckland, overtaking Jack Haslam from Bolton, who had been an Olympic finalist.

During a break in athletic competitions, he took to bridge, playing two world championships and eight European championships for Britain.

His legal work and his family occupied his time for several years, but at 50 he turned his attention to the triathlon circuit.

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“I started off small, swimming two lengths in the baths, running around the block for about 400 yards, and cycling two or three miles,” he said.

“You just build it up, there’s nothing to it. If I can do it anyone can.”

At 71, he was still competing, taking the World Quadruple Ironman Championship at Monterey in Mexico and surviving, he said,on egg sandwiches and ice cream.

He is survived by his wife, Mary, whom he married five years ago after 34 years together, and their sons, Geoffrey and James.

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