A 23-year-old Blackburn man took on one of the “toughest physical endurance challenges that anyone could take on” to raise money for Derian House Children’s Hospice.
Ryan Walmsley, an ambassador for the charity, endured a whopping 140-mile swim, cycle and run in the UK Ironman challenge last Sunday (2 July).
Setting off in the early hours he began with a freezing cold lake swim at Pennington Flash, before jumping straight on his bike for a seven-hour, 112 mile pedal in powerful winds.
Ryan, an operations team leader at BAE Systems, finished off with a 26-mile run through Bolton town centre. The race took a total of 14 hours, 37 minutes and 24 seconds.
This year’s race had the highest-ever drop-out rate with just 840 out of over 1,100 participants who started out finishing the gruelling course.
He said: “I definitely feel that an Ironman is one of the toughest physical endurance challenges that anyone could take on in a single day. There were definitely some dark times during the challenge. It was a goal I have wanted to achieve for so long.
“Before I knew it, it was go time and I was getting ready to swim. The water was super choppy because of the wind. Then it was straight out onto the bike. It was incredibly gusty – I was battling to stay on the bike, clinging on for dear life. It was hill after hill. When it came to the run, it was a relief to get off the bike. And although I got severe cramping late on, I kept on going.”
Ryan has been pushing himself to the limit to raise money for Derian House for over 10 years.
“Because I was raising money for Derian House, not finishing was never an option for me,” continued Ryan.
“Reminding myself who I was doing it for was what kept me going. The money I raise will go towards vital care for the families who visit Derian House and that is so important to me.
“When I look at my medal I think – you can’t buy that. I think of all the early mornings and late nights that I’ve spent training, and now I have achieved what I wanted to achieve. It’s all worth it now. Reaching that finish line will live with me forever.”
Ryan began his fundraising journey for Derian House aged just 18, when he set himself a challenge to run at least three miles every day over a year. He raised more than £10,000 and helped the charity gain national coverage when BBC Radio One surprised him live on air to congratulate him for his amazing dedication to charity.
In 2020, during COVID, Ryan took just over three days to cycle 230 miles from London to Chorley on a child’s bike – which he dubbed the Tour de Derian. The challenge raised £2,165 for Derian House.
Mick Croskery, Fundraising Manager at Derian House, said: “Ryan never fails to deliver us with crazy challenges, and he has truly outdone himself in this latest one. Ryan, you really are Ironman!
“While it is free for families, it will cost £6million to run services at Derian House in 2023, and we couldn’t do what we do without the awesome effort of our ambassadors – just like Ryan.”
Donate to Ryan’s Ironman challenge: https://www.justgiving.com/page/ryan-walmsley-ironmanuk