An athlete hopes to make history by attempting to join an elite band of just 87 people around the world who have completed the ultimate endurance challenge of 10 Ironman triathlons in 10 days.
Simon Bayman, who lives in Knebworth, Hertfordshire, is aiming to complete a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile cycle and marathon (26.2 miles) every day from October 4 to 13 — just over 1,400 miles in total and all in the name of dementia research. He is using the challenge to raise funds for Alzheimer’s Research UK, the UK’s leading dementia research charity.
He is one of 16 athletes attempting the Deca Ironman at Dorney Lake, Windsor, hosted by Brutal Events.
The 47-year-old, who grew up in Bexleyheath in South East London, is raising money for Alzheimer’s Research UK in memory of his dad Alan who died in September last year aged 73 after a short period with vascular dementia.
Alan, who lived in Norwich, was a big supporter of his son’s sporting challenges and was a member of his crew when he completed a Double Ironman (4.8-mile swim/224-mile/52.4-mile run) in 2011.
Simon said: “I know my dad will be watching with his trusty stopwatch and if he’s listening during the race please excuse any bad language when I’m moaning about how tired/cold/hot/bored I am.
“During my training and the event itself when I’m feeling terrible and wondering what I’m doing, I’ll reflect on the fact that my dad went through a lot without moaning.
“Everything happened very quickly with my dad. In March last year he fell over indoors. He was admitted to hospital with a urinary tract infection and never returned home. He was diagnosed with vascular dementia in hospital and went downhill extremely fast. He spent two months in hospital then had to move into a specialised dementia care unit.”
Simon has taken three months off work to train full-time for the event. He trains up to 30 hours a week, including swimming at Redricks Lake, Sawbridgeworth. However, an injury sustained at the end of June put his training behind schedule.
The freelance IT Project Manager said: “I ruptured one of my hip flexor muscles and was unable to run for six weeks. I was still able to swim and cycle but I am so far behind on the running training. I won’t be able to catch up but I’ll just do as much running as I can without injuring myself again and I’ll just be hoping for the best.
“I rate my chances of finishing at 50/50, but I must not think that. I’ve got to think it’s 100 percent, otherwise I might just get to five days and think ‘that’s a good achievement’ and stay there.
“If my hip holds up then I’ve got every chance of finishing but it will be at the back of the field. No one cares about the time, you just want to finish and get the medal.”
Simon, who admits he “wasn’t mega sporty as a kid”, first caught the endurance sport bug when he ran the Vienna Marathon when he was 30. Further marathons followed before he became a cyclist and then moved into triathlons, moving up through the distances and completing his first Ironman in Lanzarote in 2005.
He said: “I’ve done more and more stupid things as I’ve got older.
“I just enjoy the personal challenge. I enjoy setting a challenge that I have to train for over a period of months. I enjoy the lifestyle, but I’m not a slave to it, I have a beer every now and then.”
Simon’s crew for the Deca Ironman will be his sister Samantha Pace and her husband Richard, plus his friends Tony and Barry Shoesmith and Tracey McHugh. He will begin racing at 7.30am each day and will be ecstatic if he is sleeping by midnight.
He said: “You’re in a permanent state of fatigue, but it’s more of a mental challenge.
“For example, the cycling is 39 laps around the lake, so it’s like being on a hamster wheel going round and round. Every 15 minutes there’s an opportunity for you to stop, get off and give up.
“One of the major challenges is sleeping. You’re so wired and buzzing at the end of each day it’s hard to sleep. For the first two or three nights I may not get any sleep at all.”
Kenneth Foreman, Sporting Events Manager for Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “We are in awe of Simon and the lengths to which he is going to raise money for vital dementia research.
“We wish Simon the best of luck and hope he can complete this incredible endurance challenge.
“In the UK there are 850,000 people living with dementia. Alzheimer’s Research UK is leading the charge to find treatments and preventions for dementia. We couldn’t do it without supporters like Simon.”
To sponsor Simon go to his fundraising page.