IAN Marshall has completed two gruelling challenges to help raise £700 for The Hunts Post New Life Appeal. The 29-year-old not only finished the Flora London Marathon in April, but in July he went to Switzerland to take on the iron man challenge - swimmin

IAN Marshall has completed two gruelling challenges to help raise £700 for The Hunts Post New Life Appeal.

The 29-year-old not only finished the Flora London Marathon in April, but in July he went to Switzerland to take on the iron man challenge - swimming nearly 4km, cycling for 112 miles and then running a marathon.

A member of Huntingdonshire Athletics Club, based in St Ives, Ian wanted to raise money for the appeal for maternity services at Hinchingbrooke Hospital after his niece and nephew both spent time in the special care baby unit there.

After the London Marathon in April, Mr Marshal says he got stuck into the training for the iron man, concentrating on his swimming, practising in a lake, and cycling.

"My plan was to treat each event as separate races," he said. There were 1,700 competitors taking part in the event, which started with swimming a two-loop, 3.8km course.

"I was very worried about other swimmers' fists and feet hitting me but everyone seemed very considerate and kept their distance. After the first loop, we had to climb out onto a tiny island and waddle over a timing mat before getting back for the final loop."

He completed the swim in one hour, 26 minutes taking 1,574th place.

After a few minutes to change into his bike kit, Mr Marshall started the 112-mile cycle.

"The first 30 miles of each lap was very flat, passing along the shore of the lake. As I was both cold and full of adrenaline, I decided to work hard, keeping my speed about 20mph.

"Eventually, we started climbing away from the lake into the hills which started to get steeper, but I was out of the saddle, still working hard, and enjoying the race.

"I remember thinking that it was easy and that I had not too far to go. How wrong I was."

Each of the bike laps finished with a steep climb up the aptly named Heartbreak Hill.

"It was the last thing you wanted at the end of the lap, and it broke my heart," said Ian. "This hill was a turning point for me as I now started to feel tired.

"The second lap seemed to take ages, the hills seemed 10-times steeper."

However, Ian managed to finish the bike section in six hours, 50 minutes, coming in 1,520th - up 54 places.

He added: "I remember racking up my bike, sitting down to change my socks and thinking my legs have nothing left...and I now have to run a marathon!"

Ian said he became frustrated with the marathon, being forced to walk for parts of the course because of the pain he had to endure.

"I kept running for the first lap (of four), but needed to start walking after about seven miles as I was in a lot of pain.

"After each lap we were given different coloured wrist bands to show our lap counts. I remember seeing people with three bands and wanting to mug them."

Ian said the spectators helped to keep him motivated on his final laps and he finished the course 'running his heart out' to pass the finishing line in four hours, 50 minutes in 1,422nd place.

His overall time was 13 hours, 23 minutes.

He added: "It has taken me a good month to recover, but I want to go back in a few years."

Ian decided to support the New Life Appeal as his nephew, Ryan, was born very premature and spent the first nine months of his life in SCBU receiving round the clock care.

"My sister had to sleep on a bunk bed. The hospital wants to build a room where parents can stay and I want to support that."

Ryan was born 10-weeks early in May, 1997. He suffered from lung disease, cerebral palsy and brain damage. He died, aged four in September 2001. Ryan's sister, Olivia, now eight, was born four weeks early and was treated in special care for two weeks.

Mr Marshall, a former St Peter's pupil, who took part in The Great North Run last year said: "I want to thank everyone for their support and donations."

INFORMATION: New Life aims to raise £70,000 for maternity and SCBU. To get involved contact The Hunts Post on 01480 411481.

Captions: Running, Cycling and getting the medal. Pictures: SUPPLIED.