'Why I took on an Iron Man Triathlon for Framework'

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17 Sep 2013
by Neil Skinner

...It was the summer of 2012 and we were on a family holiday in Dorset, meeting up for a drink with a friend of my brother in law we got onto the subject of Ironman, Jerry, our friend, was nearing his 50th Birthday and wanted a challenge.

Knowing I was an ex sports scientist and that I loved sport, he asked me if I fancied doing one with him in Wales in 2013, I said yes, not really knowing what was involved. We shook on it and so the journey began. 

Arriving home and Googling Ironman Wales two things were apparent: one was an idiot and the second was that I’d seriously misunderstood the extent to which this would be a challenge.

So in January of this year, weighing 19.5 stone I began my training, for six days a week twice a day I have run, swum or cycled, teaching myself that If you believe hard enough you can achieve.

Ironman competitions are long distance triathlons comprising a 2.4 mile swim, 112 miles of cycling and a full marathon – all to be completed within 17 hours. 

Not only this but Wales was up there with the most technically demanding courses in the world. Great. Not one to shy from a challenge, however, I wasn’t going to let Jerry down and secretly the enormity of the challenge and the thought of pushing myself to the limit was a real buzz. 

I paid my entry fee, downloaded a year-long training programme and started the journey. At Christmas I was thinking about charities etc, and remembered that Framework had helped Mick, my father in law, who had died in 2009 following a short illness. He had struggled with a drink problem and with some mental health issues and when he wouldn’t turn to us for help Framework stepped in and provided him with support and a place where he could go to meet people. 

Not only this but Framework are involved with supporting the people who access the foodbank which is run by my father’s Church, and some of the young people I have worked with through my job in the Children and Younger Adults Department of Derbyshire County Council. 

So in January of this year, weighing 19.5 stone I began my training, for six days a week twice a day I have run, swum or cycled, teaching myself that If you believe hard enough you can achieve. I had never done a triathlon, and could about swim a length of a pool. With some coaching and a lot of determination I stuck at it and completed an Olympic distance and then a half iron distance in the summer. 

Throughout all this I thought about Mick, the fact that he was a fantastic runner who had done a lot for charity himself running the London marathon many times and numerous events in and around Mansfield. This was my way of paying him back for the values he passed on to my wife and in some ways to me. I ploughed on and was supported by many friends and of course my family. 

So on the 8th of September at 7 am I started the swim and 15.5 hours later with a grin that hadn’t left me all day I finished Ironman Wales. It was by far the best, the hardest and the most enjoyable sporting achievement of my life and so far I think I have raised £1300 for Framework. I’m 3.5 stone lighter, healthier than I’ve ever been and determined to do another Ironman as soon as possible. We can’t say thanks enough to you at Framework for all you do and did for Mick and countless others like him. I hope the money I have raised goes some way to helping others and that your great work continues!

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