A Hartlepool fitness fanatic has embarked on the ultimate sporting challenge to raise £10,000 for premature and sick newborn babies.
Teacher and triathlon coach Matt Turnbull is putting his mental and physical strength to the test this week as he attempts to complete seven Iron Man challenges in seven days.
The challenge, which kicked off yesterday, will see Matt complete an incredible 784 miles of cycling, 16.8 miles of swimming and 183.4 miles of running, to raise funds for charity Tiny Lives.
He said: “The distance is only 985 miles, but I will be riding an extra half-marathon during the challenge to take the total to 1,000 miles to pacify my OCD!
“I’m pretty sure there are no other people who have done this challenge on British soil, and hope that the magnitude of the challenge is one aspect that people will donate for.
“Most in my triathlon community know the utter pain and agony this is going to be, with so many things that could go wrong, and all my ‘normal’ friends cannot wrap their heads around this.”
Tiny Lives, based in the neonatal unit at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle, helps care for premature and sick newborn babies.
The charity aims to raise around £250,000 a year so it can acquire necessary equipment and care for the babies and their families.
Dad-of-two Matt will be completing the triathlons around Hartlepool and Seaton Carew, before finishing the week by competing in the Outlaw Triathlon at The National Water Sports Centre in Nottingham.
He started training last August, with a regime which sees him swim, run and cycle four times each per week.
But intensive training is not new to Matt, who scooped a bronze medal in the European Duathlon Championships in Germany last year.
Shortly after that he also won a silver medal in the prestigious Triathlon England National Duathlon Championship, held on the doorstep in Stockton.
He said another incentive behind the challenge is to teach his sons Dylan and Ben to believe that they can achieve anything they set their minds to.
Matt added: “When I am unmotivated or feeling low, I simply watch a video of the amazing work of this charity and how they make the darkest times of a family’s life just a little more bearable.
“It’s tough to talk about and hard to imagine going through the worry of maybe losing your newborn, but these guys have been amazing to close family and friends, and I know they are indebted to them for the care they have given.
“This is the little I can do to show my support.”
The cause has attracted attention from many different sponsors, including Aqua Sphere, who have provided Matt with top of the range swimming equipment, and One Step Beyond Events, among others.
Matt has also set up a Just Giving page to receive donations and sponsorship from the public.