Melton’s Paul Hodgkinson can proudly call himself an ironman after competing the gruelling Ironman Wales course over the weekend.
The 41-year-old undertook the iconic event, which is rated as one of the top events in the world.
The energy-sapping challenge included a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike race and a marathon to finish.
Hodgkinson finished in under 17 hours to fulfil a dream that has taken four years to achieve.
“I enjoyed it when I’d finished,” he admitted after the event in Tenby.
“It’s been a four-year dream since I stopped smoking, started running and progressed to triathlon.
“It’s been a dream of mine to do it, and hopefully now I’ve finished I’ll get a bit more sponsorship.”
The Melton athlete has already raised more than £1,000 which will be split between the Stroke Association and MIND, a mental health charity.
Hodgkinson admitted that the cycling part of the event was the toughest of the three disciplines: “There were a lot of jelly fish in the sea at Tenby, and I was lucky not to get stung.
“But the bike ride through the Pembrokeshire was extremely hilly with 2,100m of elevation and, for about 30 miles, we were against a very strong wind and it was impossible to pick up any speed.
“I had to dig really deep, there were some dark moments with pain and suffering.
“It’s my weakest event and it took longer than I expected, but the marathon was good with a decent average of around 8k an hour.”
Including transition times to get changed between events, Hodkinson finished the event in 16 hrs 38 mis 13 secs.
He completed the swim in 1 hr 11 mins, the ride in 8 hrs 39 mins and the marathon in 4 hrs 59 mins.
As he explained, it took seven months of hard training for Hodkinson to compete in the event, including a gruelling 16-week intensive session before he travelled to Wales.
“I was doing an hour’s swim in the morning and an hour either running or on a bike in the evening during weekdays, and at the weekend a longer ride on a Saturday and a run on the Sunday,” he added.
Triathlons run in the Hodgkinson family, and he credits his sisters for the inspiration to undertake the event.
He continued: “Both my sisters have competed at national team level in triathlons, so I’ve followed in their footsteps and were a big inspiration
“Ruth (Hodgkinson) has represented Great Britain, and will be competing for them in the World Triathlon Championship next week.
“Lynn (Johnstone) is now a New Zealand national and has also ran in the World Championships, winning bronze in her age group.”
Hodgkinson’s trip to Tenby is unlikely to be his last attempt at an ironman event.
“I chose Wales because it’s one of the most famous events and it was a good fit for me,” he continued.
“The next one will probably be in New Zealand in 2020, but I would like to thank everyone who’s helped me throughout my training – especially my wife, Jeanette, and my best friend Stuart McPherson, who travelled to Wales with me.”
You can still sponsor the ironman at https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/PaulHodgkinson3