FOR many people, running a marathon is one of life’s crowning achievements.
But for Collin Horton, it was just the final stage of an extraordinary fundraising effort which saw him swim, cycle and run a total of 140 miles in just 13 hours.
The Royal Navy aircraft engineer, who is based at HMS Sultan in Gosport, completed the Ironman UK triathlon in Bolton at the weekend in a bid to raise hundreds of pounds for Cancer Research UK and the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity.
The punishing jaunt began with a 2.4-mile open water swim, followed by a 112-mile bike race. And just when his legs couldn’t take much more pain, he finished it all off with a gruelling 26-mile run.
‘The swim went ok, the bike was tough and the run was excruciating,’ the 31-year-old said as he recovered.
It was the first time Collin had attempted a triathlon at this distance and he spent months training for the event.
He said: ‘This is by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
‘It dominated my life. I was training every morning and after work. It was constantly on my mind.
‘I don’t think anything can prepare you for that distance.
‘Now I’ve done it, the feeling is unreal. I don’t think it has quite sunk in yet.
‘It always seemed so far out of my grasp when I was growing up.
‘I thought I could never do something like this.
‘Now I’ve done it, it just feels incredible.’
Having completed five operational tours in Iraq and four in Afghanistan with 846 Naval Air Squadron, Collin is no stranger to stress.
But he said his experiences from 12 years in the navy pale into insignificance to the ordeal suffered by cancer sufferers and their relatives. Fortunately, I’ve been shielded from cancer my whole life but of late it’s affected some very good friends of ours,’ he said.
‘My friend’s mum is terminally ill and she’s got weeks or months to live.
‘I wanted to do something to raise money because something needs to be done to try and find a cure.’
Now he’s overcome the Ironman UK challenge, Collin is appealing for donations.