IN November last year Magherafelt businessman Paul McErlain set himself a challenge.
Swim 4.8 miles, cycle 224 and run two marathons - all in 39 hours.
It was an endurance test with a difference as the Genesis Bakery Business Development Manager took on the added responsibility of raising cash for local charity Cancer Focus.
And it was that promise to help those suffering from the disease in Mid-Ulster that pushed the kind-hearted business head on as he completed the gruelling double Ironman just two weeks ago.
“I am feeling tired,” the keen athlete told the MAIL.
“But it was worth it, we raised £5,155 - well over our target, and the support I received from the moment I started training six months ago to now has been overwhelming.”
Paul took on a tough training schedule comprising over 20 hours a week to prepare for the draining triathlon at Lough Eske drawn up by his coach Oliver Harkin.
Although his challenge was one taken on by himself, Paul credits his success in the tough challenge to his close knit group of friends and family who were by his side from the moment he vowed to take on the double Ironman whammy.
“In terms of motivation and diet - that support you get from home is critical. And my support team weren’t just there on the day, they were there throughout the entire six months.”
Paul also paid tribute to fellow Mid-ulster businessman and friend Julian Grimes - owner of Simplicity restaurant in the town.
The pair both decided to raise cash for Cancer Focus with Julian taking part in the Lanzarote Ironman.
As well as taking on the physically draining athletic tasks, the pair ran fundraising events and even created their own biscuit to raise funds.
Cancer Focus Northern Ireland fundraising officer Emma McCann praised the tremendous fundraising effort by both men which will see over £5K going into Mid-Ulster.
and helping not only cancer sufferers but their families.
She attended Paul’s double Ironman challenge on May 31st.
“To actually see how one person could put their body and mind through that was amazing.” she said.
“What struck me was the fact he had such a good, strong family and team around him.”
The event was organised by Trilimits, Cookstown.
Paul is now in recovery mode following the double Ironman.
“I am coming around but it will take me a while to get back to my normal standard of training.”
And he hasn’t ruled out competing in another gruelling double Ironman.
“Ask me in November - I will have to check with the wife first!”
Cancer Focus Northern Ireland is committed to tackling cancer by supporting cancer research, providing services for cancer patients and their families and by educating people on how they can reduce their risk of the disease.
All funds raised for Cancer Focus Northern Ireland are spent locally to help and support people with cancer in Northern Ireland.