Husband and wife team to undertake “world’s hardest triathlon”


A husband and wife team from Barnsley has been selected to be part of a Help for Heroes group that will take on the Enduroman Arch to Arc challenge, which begins on Friday September 25, and is billed as the hardest triathlon in the world.

The team, which includes 24 wounded, injured and sick veterans and serving personnel, has been training for nine months, having taken on various events and challenges to prepare them for what lies ahead. Some of the training events alone have been significant and have included the Bolton Ironman, Cotswold Classic and 113 events, as well as bespoke open water swim camps in order to prepare for the conditions of the Channel.

Caroline and Ray Buckle, of Wombell, Barnsley, who have been married for 14 years, have been training together and are delighted they both made the team.

Caroline, 35, originally from Stocksbridge, Sheffield, joined the Army in 1997 and has served across the world with the Royal Logistic Corps and the Adjutant General Corps Staff and Personnel Support branch. She was medically discharged in 2014 after suffering from PTSD, depression and severe anxiety.

Caroline, who now works for Cape in Goldthorpe, also snapped her Achilles’ tendon in late 2008, which left her with no use of her toes and little to no feeling from her knee cap down to her left leg.

She said: “Help for Heroes have given me so much help and support.

“Training for this challenge has helped me make new friends, helped my confidence no end and generally start to find my old self. There is still a long way to go, but the life-long support my husband and I receive help us both to understand me more and grow in confidence.

“I enjoy the team work and being able to talk to other people from the services who have gone through a similar process.”

Before starting training for the Arch to Arc, Caroline had never done a major sporting challenge.

She said: “I just wanted this year to be a bit different for me. Last year was quite turbulent with leaving the Army. I want to raise money for Help for Heroes and give back to the next generation, who will need ongoing support.”

Caroline said when she first snapped her Achilles’ tendon, she couldn’t walk two miles and now the fact she is doing a triathlon feels fantastic.

She said: “I’m still in pain but I’m able to run further before I am in pain than previously. I have adapted my running style and I run/walk or use walking poles to take the weight of my legs,” she said.

Ray, 42, is a member of Band of Sisters, which provides lifelong support to the loved ones of those who have sustained a career limiting/ending injury or illness during or attributable to service.

He served 22 years with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers but now delivers NVQ’s to REME personnel.

Ray decided to take up the challenge to support Caroline.

“We have had so much support from Help for Heroes and the Recovery Centres so it was a fantastic opportunity to give something back as well as being able to do an amazing challenge and support Caroline as well,” he said.

Mark Airey, Strength and Conditioning Co-Ordinator at Help for Heroes Phoenix House Recovery Centre in Catterick, North Yorkshire, said: “It’s fantastic that the group have come so far to this point, and that we’re able to share the team and encourage the public to support them ahead of next month and the start of this epic challenge. Sport provides optimism, self-belief and confidence in what can be achieved, and this is proven to be of particular importance to this group. All of these benefits can be translated outside of sport and into day to day life, sport helps with coping strategies and resilience – which is so important on an individual’s recovery journey.”

For those that have been selected, the Arch to Arc ultra-distance triathlon requires relay teams to run 87 miles from Marble Arch London to the Dover coast, to swim across the Channel, and finish with an 181 mile bike from Calais to the Arc de Triomphe, Paris and has never been attempted by a disabled team before. The clock starts at Marble Arch, London and stops at Arc de Triomphe, Paris, regardless of weather or delays.

All participants are wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women that are beneficiaries of Help for Heroes, incorporating all abilities, using sport as part of their recovery journey. Participants are fundraising in support of the charity that has helped them in their recovery, to maintain and ensure others can benefit from the same support further down the line. Quite simply, without the public’s support Help for Heroes wouldn’t be able to continue to do the work they do.

The team will be supported by former model and TV presenter Jodie Kidd – who will be outriding on the run and cycle routes.

Jodie said: “I’m very much looking forward to supporting these incredible individuals on such an amazing challenge. I’ve enjoyed time at Help for Heroes’ Tedworth House Recovery Centre where I practised cycling alongside a race wheelchair, very much like I’ll be doing throughout the challenge itself as an out-rider. It’s going to be a real test, but we’re going to push ourselves and it’s going to be an incredible achievement – it’s fantastic to see the benefits of sport to an individual’s recovery. I urge people to please donate to this important cause, without the public’s generosity Help for Heroes wouldn’t be able to continue to provide the support to our wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women, that they so deserve.”

The training programme has been running for eight months and will continue through until September, as part of Help for Heroes’ extensive Sports Recovery programme, the challenge itself will begin on Saturday 26th September 2015 (subject to tides).

Help for Heroes has been involved with Sports Recovery since 2008, and in the past year alone have offered 300 events across 50 different sports enabling over 2,100 wounded, injured and sick service personnel and veterans to take part in adaptive sports from grassroots through to performance level. 

To support the team as they take on this incredible journey visit: Arch top Arc

For more information about how Help for Heroes can support you if you’re wounded, injured or sick, visit: Help For Heroes