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Llangynwyd resident Geraint Rowlands recently cycled 688 miles in six days through Poland, Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania for blood cancer research charity Bloodwise in preparation for a gruelling triathlon later on this summer.

The 37 year old, who overcome acute lymphoblastic leukaemia after being diagnosed at the age of 15, set off for his European challenge on the 20 May with eight friends, completing over 100 miles a day on the bike. He says

“The challenge has evolved over the years, from its humble beginnings of deciding over a pint to cycle from Holyhead to Cardiff in two days, to where we are now and attempting to cycle an unbroken route through the continent of Europe. To date, we’ve cycled through 24 European countries and covered over 4,500 miles.    We’re wholly unsupported while we’re on the road, which means, no back crew in a van, no supplies and refreshments at every stop.  We carry everything we need for a week and we source everything we can’t carry as we go!

This year’s ride saw us fly into Krakow in Poland, before setting out to tackle 688 miles through Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania.  Despite being one of the flattest routes we have taken on, we were battered relentlessly by the scourge of all cyclists…a headwind!! Having crossed the border into Ukraine, we were also treated to the worst roads we’ve seen in 10 years of doing this.  Belarus we found practically impossible to get into, and yet perfectly clean, tidy and most importantly, great tarmac! To finish in Vilnius was certainly a welcome relief.  A seriously tough week of long, hard efforts.

We’ve been doing this for 10 years and the inspiration behind our fundraising efforts for Bloodwise is twofold.  I managed to overcome my battle with Leukaemia.  It’s quite some time ago but it’s certainly steered my life towards taking on challenges that you’d typically rule out as a little bit foolish!  In addition to my experience of Blood cancer, a good friend of ours, Gethin, was taken from us all too soon, after fighting Lymphoma in his 20’s.  Gethin was one of the good guys, a true friend and a genuine person.”

Geraint is now turning his attention to the Caderman Triathlon, taking place on Saturday 4 August. The event, which he devised and which will raise money for Bloodwise, has two distance options; the traditional sprint distance of a 600 metre swim, 37-kilometre cycle, five-kilometre uphill run and the extreme half ironman distance of 1,900-metre swim, 90.5 kilometre cycle, and 13.1-mile run up Cader Idris-one of the most beautiful but brutal ascents in Snowdonia.

Geraint adds “Twenty years on, I now live with my beautiful wife Catrin, who puts up with a lot, and our new little miracle Rhun. He’s our little two-year-old boy, a gift I never thought we’d have because of the side-effects of my treatment. Raising money for Bloodwise helps those who are fighting their fight right now. The work they do really does transform lives”.

Helen Mulhern, Regional Manager at Bloodwise, says: “We are so grateful for the support from people like Geraint and his friends with the epic cycle ride and now the Caderman Triathlon. They know only too well that research saves lives. Blood cancer kills more people each year than breast or prostate cancer, so every penny counts in ensuring we can find kinder and more effective treatments that save lives and reduce the harsh side effects currently experienced by patients. The triathlon is an amazing challenge to take on, and a truly memorable, once-in-a lifetime experience.

For more information and to register for this event please visit- bloodwise.org.uk/caderman