Ian Taplin (49) and Rob Parkinson (50) are relative new comers to triathlon having taken up the sport in their late 40’s. With only a couple of sprint events and the Porthleven Surf Tri under their belts, they’ve set themselves the challenge of swimming, cycling and canoeing from Henley on Thames to Belfast in 7 days starting on 23 June 2012.
On their first day they tackle a 35 km relay swim on the river Thames ending at Windsor, followed by a 5 day cycle to the West Coast of Scotland & finally a 40 km paddle to Bangor in the Northern Ireland. They’ll take their bikes with them in the support boat and ride the final stage into Belfast.
Though novices to triathlon they are not new to endurance events having swum the Strait of Gibraltar in 2009 in 3hrs 45mins, unexpectedly taking almost 1 hour off the time David Walliams and James Cracknell did the year before. In the course of training for the Strait they swam Lake Windermere and completed a 22 mile south cost swim ending at the Needles lighthouse on the western tip of the Isle of Wight.
Training for their 1000km tri started 18 months ago and has involved a mix of weekly cycle, pool & gym sessions interspersed with longer weekend events. They say one of the main difficulties has been striking a balance between the need to train and hectic family/work commitments, a familiar cry for many triathletes! Cycling to work through the winter and enrolling with Hillingdon Triathlon Club has helped them maximise their training time.
In May this year Ian and Rob took delivery of two titanium bikes from British bike manufacturer Enigma Bikes who have generously donated them in support of Help for Heroes. Hand built in Sussex and kitted out with carbon components and Campagnolo Athena group sets, Ian and Rob have little excuse for not completing the ride in good time! They are also grateful to have members of Hillingdon Triathlon Club joining them for the ride to Port Patrick.
Probably the most daunting aspect of the challenge will be the kayak crossing to Northern Ireland over a stretch of water known as the ‘North Channel’. Though similar in distance to the English Channel it has a notorious reputation for rough seas and strong tides. They’ve also decided to do it the hard way by crossing East to West against the prevailing wind conditions. With 2 weeks to go they are keeping a close eye on the long range forecast and praying hard for settled weather at the end of June!
If you would like to support their event in aid of Help for Heroes they have a donations page set up at www.bmycharity.com/tri1000