This adventure started with a chance conversation with my colleague Simon who mentioned his interest in Aquathons to me. At the time I wasn't sure what that meant, so Simon explained to me it was a race that combined running and swimming and asked why I hadn't ever given it a go? That was the summer of 2017 and at that stage I hadn't been swimming for 17 years or ran for at least 10 years. I had to stop running because it became too dangerous for me to run alone and so I went to the gym to keep fit instead. This however didn't seem to deter Simon and he offered to become my guide, just to see how we got on as a team.
That twist of fate led me to entering a lot of different events including Aquathons, road races, a triathlon and something i'd dreamt about... the London marathon. I never had imagined that I could achieve such things when I was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa at the age of 17 years old. I was told that I would go blind at some stage and a consultant in London told me that my life was going to be very tough. To my knowledge he had no direct experience of gradual blindness so I set out to prove him wrong and to date I can honestly say I have had a good life with more ups than downs overall.
I actually use the condition to motivate me, as it can be a nuisance, I like the challenge to overcome it. I manage to work full-time time whilst studying for a politics degree so I am quite proficient when it comes to managing my time and focusing on a task. Achieving goals and setting new ones is what makes me tick so running, swimming and cycling are ideal for me as there is plenty of room for improvement.
My eye condition is something that I can do nothing about, but I do have control to a large extent over how I deal with it. With this experience I would like to help others who have challenges to overcome them and have success in whatever way (no matter how big or small) that they can. It is great to see individuals develop and grow in confidence so if I can assist and inspire anyone to improve themselves it makes me very happy.
We have competed in one triathlon to date, which on its own is a great achievement as we had to learn to do all three disciplines together and when it came to riding a tandem bike...well that was a new experience.
We had to borrow a tandem bike which was old, heavy and not suited to the quick pace of a sprint triathlon. But with all the extra challenges we faced we still crossed the finish line alongside all the other able bodied athletes.
With the money raised we will invest in a new, fitted tandem bike of our own with the intent of being able to compete in many more triathlons as equals. Our aim is not just to compete but to show everyone, any age, that barriers are there to be broken down and overcome. If not alone, together in tandem. This bike will not only be a much needed piece of equipment to keep us driving forwards but a symbol for others to see...of two people working together...working in tandem.
But why do we want to compete in triathlons? Why give ourselves added challenges over three disciplines?
Well there are several reasons why we train so much and enter events regularly. Of course there is the sense of achievement, adventure and enjoyment of meeting like-minded people. However, for me the big motivation is to demonstrate that whatever challenges a person has to deal with, they can be overcome and it is possible to lead a full, productive life. There can be no better feeling than to think that one can inspire others to live a positive active life. If we can inspire just one person to try something new, to challenge or break down their barriers, each time we race or are seen training then we are fulfilling are purpose.
Please support us working in tandem to inspire others, by helping us to buy a bicycle for two!