Harpenden man proves he’s not any old ironman

AN IRONMAN from Harpenden has put an horrific skiing accident behind him to complete a gruelling triathlon challenge.

George Watkins, 24, of Beeson End, was one of over 1,500 people who took to the starting line in Bolton a couple of weekends ago to run, cycle and swim the original Ironman course, raising over �2,000 for two Herts charities in the process.

But this time last year, George could barely walk after an accident in the Swiss Alps in March, when he lost his footing during a ski trip with friends and fell about 150 metres down the side of a rocky mountain, landing in the snow.


George, who broke numerous bones as a result including three in his back, spent four weeks in a Swiss hospital before being flown back to England where he stayed at Spire Harpenden Hospital for four nights. Eight weeks in a wheelchair followed and George said that he had to be very patient during that time.

“I was a really active person before the fall and to not even be able to walk was extremely frustrating. I just about managed to get around in a wheelchair but I had to take everything so slowly and was going to hydrotherapy sessions at Spire for up to three times a week.”

But George, who describes himself as “incredibly determined”, persevered and after 12 weeks of hydrotherapy he stood for the first time in June last year, and after a brief spell on crutches, he was out running on the roads to get back into shape.

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George, an Imperial College London maths graduate, said that the Ironman challenge was the most gruelling day of his life: “I had to prove to myself that I was back to full fitness – perhaps even more so than I was before the accident – and so the toughest and original triathlon sounded like a good idea. My mum Marguerite thinks I’m a bit mad, but she’s been so supportive because she knows how important it is for me to have a focus.”

He added: “I’m glad I completed the Ironman challenge and raised money for charities which do such good work. I think I’ve earned a bit of a rest now, but who knows – maybe I’ll be swimming to France before long!”

To help boost George’s fundraising total, sponsor him online at www.justgiving.com/GeorgeWatkins-WillowFoundation or www.justgiving.com/GeorgeWatkins-AirAmbulance