For a keen triathlete like Garry Kendall, competing in an Ironman triathlon was a dream a little out of his reach due to the expensive entry fee – that is until his best friend Andy Frost stepped in to contribute.
Andy, 55, suffers from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, a condition which leads to damaged airways in the lungs leaving sufferers feeling breathless, and so Garry is raising money for the British Lung Foundation.
41-year-old Garry hopes that by partaking in the Ironman Wales – a race consisting of a 2.4 mile sea swim, 112 mile bike ride and a 26 mile marathon – he will raise £1500 for the charity.
Garry, from Leicester, said of his friend of 25 years: ‘Ever since starting the sport my best friend Andy has been my biggest supporter. He has taken a bigger interest in my progress than anyone else I know.
‘He calls me after every race, he listens to me moan when I’m tired or hurting, shares my joy when I do well and my disappointment when I suffer inevitable setbacks.’
Garry also spoke about how the disease has affected his friend: ‘Andy has a wisdom about him which he doesn’t seem to give himself credit for at times and he is also a brilliant artist! He used to love to draw and was always scribbling away at something.
‘It’s all very sad now. He is stuck in his home for the majority of the time. He has an oxygen machine permanently wired into his house and cannot get out without a wheelchair and oxygen bottle.
‘I take him out with me when I can – usually to open water swim training and to Bradgate Park when I go running. But this isn’t possible in the cold weather so it will be another few months before I get him out again. The real tragedy is that he also doesn’t get that many visitors.’
To prepare for the gruelling challenge of the Ironman Garry will undergo a seven month training programme, training between six to 20 hours per week.
He said: ‘Everything about a race from beginning to end is just painful. The swims are cold and rough and getting punched in the head is not uncommon. Getting onto a bike and going hell for leather in soaking wet clothes is cold and uncomfortable.
‘Jumping off of a bike and running is just painful – it hurts in ways that are hard to describe, but that makes crossing the line a really special feeling.’
Raising money for a cause close to his heart will inevitably add to the ‘special feeling’, Garry said: ‘After Andy’s contribution to the Ironman entry fee I felt the need to give a little something back.
‘I want to extend his generosity to other people similarly affected and those who care for them by using the race as an opportunity to raise money for the British Lung Foundation.’
Garry has so far raised around £200 of his intended £1500 and will take part in the Ironman on September 16 in Pembrokeshire.
To find out more or to donate go to http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/GarryKendall .