Swimming club fathers team up for trekking challenge in Dales

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HEIR children regularly push themselves to challenging feats of up to 7km in the pool.

TNow, fathers of four teenage swimmers have been inspired to challenge themselves to a 100km trek through the Yorkshire Dales for charity.

Graham Walker, Matthew Ward, Andrew Tate and Mick Gledhill have signed up to Oxfam’s Trailtrekker event after getting to know each other through the City of Bradford Swimming Club.

Mr Walker’s son Joshua, 16, trains in the club’s national potential squad with Mr Gledhill’s daughter Joanna, 17, while Mr Tate’s son Jordan and Mr Ward’s daughter Lucy, both 14, are in the junior development squad.

“A few of us parents determined that we can’t just sit there and watch them and we’ve got to do something ourselves,” said Mr Walker.

“Our children are involved in a challenging sporting activity and at the same time we as parents like to be involved in challenges.”

Mr Walker, a keen runner and former fell walker, has previously completed the UK and Yorkshire Three Peaks and did the national challenge again with Mr Ward on Friday – the shortest day of the year.

But the non-stop 100km hike around the Dales will be like nothing any of the men, in their 40s and 50s, have attempted before.

They are under no illusions about the daunting scale of the task ahead and plan to begin their training in earnest in the New Year.

“Because we’re all quite active we’re all very fit but the sports that we’re all involved in aren’t really ideal preparation for what we plan to do,” said Mr Walker.

“After Christmas we plan to get together and go for a number of training walks, possibly along the actual route. That is a luxury we have living where we do – we can easily get to the area we’re going to be walking in to do our training unlike groups from the south or further north.”

Between them, the team members have experience and talents that will serve them well as they navigate their way through the countryside – including scout leader Mr Gledhill’s orienteering skills.

“We will have to be fairly competent at reading a map – you’re talking about 100km and you’re not going to have signposts all across the moors,” said Mr

They will also have the support of friends and family, who will form a dedicated back-up team of volunteers, co-ordinated by Mr Tate’s wife Sharon. And above all, the walk’s worthy cause will spur them on to the finish line.

“With Trailtrekker it’s not just that sense of achievement at the end – it’s that those achievements result in the benefit of other people,” said Mr Walker. “Oxfam is a wonderful charity. They provide support throughout the world where ever the need is.”

Trailtrekker, supported by the Yorkshire Post, has gone from strength to strength since it began in 2009, raising around £1.5m for Oxfam.

Close to 200 teams took part in the challenge this year, raising a record £500,000.

Organisers said early signs were promising the 2013 walk would be its most popular yet. More than 800 people are already signed up from all over Britain and as far away as the United States for the event, which will take place over the first weekend in June.

Trailtrekker spokesman Tom Holloway said: “So far we’ve seen an amazing response in people signing up to take part in Trailtrekker 2013.

“We’ve had well over 200 teams register already, which is double the number from previous years at this point. Teams interested in taking part should really move quickly to avoid being disappointed as we’re likely to fill all our places.

“Trailtrekker 2013 is going to be huge and we hope to raise more money than ever for Oxfam’s vital work fighting poverty around the world.”

The walk starts in Skipton and cuts a circuit through the stunning national park. The route passes Malham Cove and Pen-y-Ghent before returning past Buckden and Conistone to finish the following day back in Skipton.

The challenge requires teams of four to walk day and night to complete the full course within 30 hours – but there are also shorter options of 40km or 65km.

To sponsor Mr Walker’s team, visit www.justgiving.com/cobsdads.