A group of 24 wounded ex-Forces personnel formed the first teams of disabled competitors to complete the gruelling Arch to Arc challenge. The London to France triathlon is so called because it starts at London’s Marble Arch and finishes at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.
The event started with an 87-mile run from Marble Arch to Dover. Competitors then had to swim the Channel before completing a 181-mile cycle ride to the Arc de Triomphe. It has been described as one of the most challenging triathlon events in the world.
The 24 former servicemen and women competed under four different teams, with the fastest finishing in just under 48 hours. All the athletes had been beneficiaries of the military charity Help For Heroes and have been using sport as a means to help overcome their physical and psychological injuries.
Former Paratrooper Dean Middleton suffered a shattered skull while serving in Afghanistan. He told The Star: “We fought – and some of us nearly died – for our countries but I think it has been a blessing. I get more job satisfaction now. Before being blown up I struggled to swim 25 metres, I scraped through my swim test and then I swam the Channel.”
Fellow competitor Rob Cromey-Hawke added: “I and the team are delighted to be stood here at the Arc de Triomphe having set the record for the first disabled team to complete the Arch to Arc Challenge. None of us in the team would be here right now without the amazing support and guidance that we have received from Help for Heroes."
“We’d like to show all other injured service personnel and the UK population that no matter what turn your life takes, you can still achieve amazing things.”