A SOUTH Tyneside triathlete is gearing up to face his toughest fitness test yet to raise funds for a children’s hospice.
Kris Whitelaw, 31, recently competed in the Exmoor 70.3 Ironman, where he endured a 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike ride and a 13.1-mile run – finishing in five hours 32 minutes, in aid of Grace House North East Children’s Hospice, in Sunderland.
Now, he is gearing up to embark on the ultimate test of his endurance when he takes part in the Long Course Weekend (LCW) event, in Wales this weekend.
An energy consultant at Utilitywise in South Shields, Kris will undertake a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile marathon run.
The event comes just over a year since Mr Whitelaw underwent gastric bypass surgery, and is now a “bariathlete” – having more than halved his bodyweight.
A bariathlete is someone who has lost weight through bariatric surgery and goes on to compete in endurance events, such as marathons and Ironman challenges.
To date, he has trained for more than 400 hours and covered more than 5,000 miles by running, cycling and swimming.
Through his competitions, he is hoping to raise £5,000 in sponsorship for Grace House North East Children’s Hospice.
Mr Whitelaw said: “In October 2012, I weighed 26st. Now I’m much fitter and looking forward to competing in more Ironman events.
“My ultimate goal is to compete as a triathelte in the Rio Olympics in 2016.
“I’ve qualified for the national championships in Liverpool in August and I can’t wait.
“I’m amazed at how much I’ve achieved since the surgery.
“Training has been really tough and it’s hard to balance with work and family commitments, but I’ve had great support from my family, Utilitywise, Grace House and my surgical team.
“Grace House is such an excellent cause and it feels great to be able to raise money for them in this way.”
Grace House aims to provide respite, palliative and end-of-life care for children with life-limiting illnesses, when it opens later this year.
Laura Gillespie, fundraiser for Grace House, said: “Kris has achieved so much in such a short space of time. We’re incredibly thankful he’s supporting us in this way and we wish him every success in the Ironman competition.”
To sponsor Kris and to donate to Grace House, visit his justGiving page www.justgiving.com/Kris-Whitelaw3