David completes his toughest challenge in aid of Prospect Hospice
David Churchill overcame a foot injury and a fear of deep water to complete his first Ironman event in September this year, raising nearly £500 for Prospect Hospice.
The Ironman Wales event consists of a sea swim of nearly two and a half miles, a 112 mile bike ride and a marathon run, one after another on the same day, testing participants both physically and mentally. David had signed up for Ironman Wales 2018 for a personal challenge, but decided to run in memory of his friend and fellow Slinn Allstars runner, Paul Gee, who died at the hospice.
“When Paul passed away, just before I took part in Ironman, I could think of no better way to remember him than by raising some money through sponsorship,” said David. “I managed to raise £480, so not only was it a personal achievement on my part, but some of the money helped to support the charity who cared for Paul. He was highly thought of and loved, and is missed by so many.”
David’s journey for endurance type events started back in 2007. A keen runner as a child, he ran for his school, clubs and his borough, but he didn’t pick it up again until he was in his forties. “When my children were about ten and twelve, and didn’t need as much looking after, that’s when I decided to go out and get fit again,” said David. “It started with the gym and then mountain biking with a group, which progressed to road biking. I always wanted to do the London Marathon and when I hit my mid-forties I thought, ‘it’s now or never’.”
David ran the London Marathon in 2009, and in 2016 he completed the six World Marathon Majors (WMMs), which comprises the Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York events, and took four years of training. After completing the WMMs, David had to have surgery on his right foot, preventing him for running for three months. “In that time I was determined to keep fit and because I couldn’t run, I took up swimming,” he said. “I couldn’t swim properly so for a year I had one to one swimming lessons.”
This came in handy when his training for Ironman began in December last year. In preparation for the sea swimming part of the event, David buried his apprehension of deep water by going open water swimming with his son at Cotswold Water Park, while continuing his swimming lessons. After his foot healed, he added distance running and cycling to his training schedule.
On the day, David found his training hadn’t quite prepared him for what he was about to face. “Physically, it’s difficult – doing a marathon feels like a jog in the park by comparison – but I was more challenged mentally. I started at 7am, and finished at just after 11pm, and the sea was extremely choppy, which worried me. It was certainly the hardest thing I’ve ever done but I really enjoyed it; great organisation and superb atmosphere. The support of the crowd was incredible and it got me through it.”
David’s experience has certainly not put him off future events and he has already signed up for next year’s Ironman Copenhagen. “I’m going to have surgery on my left foot this time so I’ll need three months of rest, but after that I’ll be back to training. Copenhagen is a lot flatter than Wales!”
Events and community manager, Genevieve Arney, pictured here receiving a cheque for £480 from David, said: “We want to thank David for raising so much money for Prospect Hospice, and congratulate him on his fantastic achievement. Well done, David!”