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Thursday, 23 October 2014

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Forestry man tackles ultimate triathlon challenge

Thirlmere-based woodland officer Paul Clavey defied the odds last weekend by going without sleep for almost two days to complete what is considered the toughest triathlon in Britain.

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ONE DONE: Paul Clavey comes ashore after swimming Windermere, the first part of his triathlon challenge

During the early hours of Monday he signed off at the Moot Hall, Keswick, after completing three famous endurance challenges.

The former international triathlete swam the length of 10½-mile Windermere, cycled the 114-mile Fred Whitton Challenge and finished off by running the 72-mile Bob Graham Round of 42 summits, equal to an ascent of Everest.

There were times when he admitted feeling weary – like on Blencathra high above the A66. Descending Doddick Fell in the dark by the light of a head torch was one of his most taxing times, but then he made up speed in the next leg from Threlkeld.

He said: “The weather was glorious with sunshine and welcome breeze on the ridges. Fortunately my pacers kept me going.”

Paul, 44, added: “I know it may sound daft but I just wanted to celebrate the fact of having friends who were prepared to turn out to help and that it would be an incredible thing to do.

“As it happened, it turned out to be a wonderful day, what with the weather and banter between us.

“Giving in wasn’t an option.”

Keswick runner Simon Noble said Paul was the perfect runner to pace. Noble said: “The only time you know he’s suffering is when he goes a bit quiet.

“We gave him encouragement, and he battled through such hard times.”

Four years ago Paul completed this same course after swimming Coniston Water – half the length of Windermere.

He said: “I cannot thank my pacers enough, locals one and all – and some who travelled to help me.”

The Fred Whitton Challenge involves pedalling over some of the Lake District’s toughest mountain passes, such as Honister.

There was no let-up in the concentration needed on crowded roads due to school holiday traffic.

But his team set a brisk pace through vales like Borrowdale, Newlands and Buttermere, and surprised onlookers on Honister Pass with the speed of their ascent.

Eight and a quarter hours later he returned to his starting point to enjoy a hot meal, sausage casserole.

A midnight start from the Moot Hall saw his final Herculean effort, the Bob Graham Round, under way with fellrunning legend Gavin Bland, of West Head Farm, Thirlmere, pacing him over the first leg of Skiddaw, Great Calva and Blencathra.

He finally reached Keswick’s Moot Hall door again at 2.50am on Monday – approximately 26 hours after starting out.

Paul lives in Kendal and each day cycles a round-trip of 60 miles to work at Thirlmere.

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