Harpenden Ironman’s record bid

AN IRONMAN from Harpenden who survived a horrific ski accident is hoping to set a new world record during a gruelling 950-mile ride for charity.

Next Sunday, June 11, George Watkins, 25, is entering the Deloitte Ride Across Britain – an epic nine-day trek from John O’Groats to Land’s End.

The Beeson End resident is aiming to become the first person to complete the journey on an Elliptigo, a low impact running device that helps people with joint problems.

Two years ago George broke 14 bones, including three in his back, after he fell 150 metres down the side of a rocky mountain in the Swiss Alps.

He spent four weeks in a Swiss hospital and needed over three months to learn how to walk again.

The Imperial College Maths graduate describes himself as a very active person so he found being confined to a hospital bed incredibly hard mentally.

He said: “Prior to the accident I had done university, school and followed a set course that most young people had followed and didn’t need to think where I would be in five years.

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“But lying there not having anything to do gave me a chance to evaluate things. And that’s when I decided I wanted to challenge myself and help others. I wanted to maximise the impact of the time I had and do that by helping other people.”

Last year George entered the Ironman competition, a triathlon which involves a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile cycle ride and a full-length 26.2-mile marathon in under 17 hours.

In the process he raised over �2,000 for two Hertfordshire-based charities.

He said: “I like pushing myself, challenging myself and doing things that I normally wouldn’t be able to. I like that feeling of doing something that other people say is impossible.”

George has been training for the ride across Britain for several months and each time he goes out he must do at least two hours exercise in order to reap the benefits.

But he added: “I think the greatest challenge will be the mental challenge of being on a bike for up to 12 hours.

“But when I come up against challenges like this, things that scare me, I just do it. I don’t feel I have a secret formula – I try not to think about it and if I get tired I don’t stop.”

He is raising money for two charities close to his heart, including one set up by his relatives in memory of his cousin Paul who passed away from a brain tumour aged 19.

The charity, Paul’s Fund, provides grants for young people suffering from serious illness and bereavement to go on a retreat to Devon.

George said: “Often people who are going through a really difficult time just want to get away somewhere. To be able to go away and spend some quality time with their family can really make all the difference.”

George is also raising money for Herts Against Cancer, a new charity that supports attempts to improve early detection of cancer.

He is being sponsored by St Albans solicitors Taylor Watkins who have paid for the entry fee to the race, which means all money donated will go to charity.

For more information visit uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Herts-Against-Cancer and www.pauls-fund.co.uk.