Cookstown man takes on world’s toughest triathlon for charity

Paul O'Gara (centre) Community Fundraising Officer, Cancer Focus Northern Ireland, the new name for the Ulster Cancer Foundation, with Keith Clarke and Bob Davison who are taking part in the Northern Ireland Decaman, Ireland's toughest triathlon. The event takes place 6th ' 15th July 2012 at Eskragh Lough, Dungannon, and will raise money to support the Cancer Focus Men's Health campaign. It is supported by TriLimits and powered by Chain Reaction Cycles.

Paul O'Gara (centre) Community Fundraising Officer, Cancer Focus Northern Ireland, the new name for the Ulster Cancer Foundation, with Keith Clarke and Bob Davison who are taking part in the Northern Ireland Decaman, Ireland's toughest triathlon. The event takes place 6th ' 15th July 2012 at Eskragh Lough, Dungannon, and will raise money to support the Cancer Focus Men's Health campaign. It is supported by TriLimits and powered by Chain Reaction Cycles.

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A COOKSTOWN man whose friends joked he had more chance of winning the lottery than completing a triathlon is set to take on a mammoth charity race.

34 year-old Bob Davison will take part in the ten day Northern Ireland Decaman sporting event to raise cash for Cancer Focus Northern Ireland this week. He and Dungannon man Keith Clarke will begin the mammoth triathlon, which is the equivalent of swimming the English channel, cycling the length of Ireland four times and running 10 Belfast marathon, tomorrow, Friday July 6th.

The gruelling Decaman triathlon will take place at Eskragh Lough, Dungannon and will finish on July 15th. The men will have to swim 24 miles, cycle 1,120 miles and run 262 miles in what is known as the world’s hardest triathlon. To date only 60 people in the world have managed to complete the race.

Bob, who recently married, took on the challenge for the local cancer charity, formerly known as the Ulster Cancer Foundation, for its province wide Men’s Health Campaign. He was spurred on after friends jjoked he would have more chance of winning the lottery than being able to take part in a triathlon.

“I was spurred on to get fit in 2002 after a few friends laughed at me when I said I’d like to do a triathlon – I was quite heavy at the time, almost 16 stone and had a 40inch waist. My mates said I had more chance of winning the lottery. I bet them I could do it,” said Bob.

“The following year I entered my first race in Antrim, which was a 250 metre swim, a five mile bike ride and a two mile run. I wasn’t the fastest, but wasn’t last either, and it was then that I caught the bug.”

He continued: “Next came my first Ironman (a one-day triathlon event). A few months later I was at my first world championship in Hawaii representing Ireland. Who would have thought I’d ever do that?”

“I later went onto complete 16 Ironman events which included a Double Iron in 2009, which I finished in 36hrs 10mins, and an Irish Ironman. This year I completed a triple Iron which consisted of a 7.2 mile swim, a 336 mile bike ride and finished off with a 78.6 mile run, all in 56hrs 41 mins.

“The Northern Ireland Decaman is the next big thing to attempt. I’ve been training up to 30 hours a week and am down to 10 stone. I’m as fit now as I’m going to be. I hope everyone will come along to Eskragh Lough and cheer us on.”

Members of the public are invited to come along and take part in a distance and sport of their choice, whether it’s one mile or 100 miles. The aim is to raise as much as possible for the Cancer Focus Northern Ireland Men’s Health campaign.

Father of two, Keith said he was introduced to triathlons through Bob.

“This all led to our biggest challenge yet -The Triple Ironman, which was a 7.2 mile swim, a 336 mile bike ride and a 78.6 mile run completed in under 60 hours. The Decaman is a huge challenge but I’m fairly confident I’ll get through it,” said the 35 year-old.

“We are delighted to be doing this for Cancer Focus which does excellent work to help cancer patients and their families. We hope everyone will rally round and help us raise loads of money for them.”

Speaking about the local men’s mammoth challenger Cancer Focus Fundraising Officer Paul O’Gara said: “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.

“We would urge everyone to help us raise as much money as possible to continue funding these free services either by taking part in the NI Decaman Challenge or by supporting participants.”

The event is kindly 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.

Show your support for the NI Decaman fundraising campaign 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: paulogara@cancerfocusni.org