Thomas steels himself for solo Ironman challenge in Royal Deeside

Thomas steels himself for solo Ironman challenge in Royal Deeside

A few laps of the running track is something many will feel inspired to do after watching the Tokyo Olympics.

But one Aberdeenshire man is taking his fitness challenge far beyond that, with an Ironman event that will see him run 65 laps of his local running track.

Thomas Barter will tackle the distance next Sunday [August 29] as part of his Ironman challenge.

Recognised as an extremely challenging race, an Ironman is more than four times the distance of an Olympic triathlon, with a 2.4mile open water swim, 112mile cycle, and a marathon, which Thomas will complete on a circular running track. The entire challenge must be completed in 15 and ¾ hrs to meet the Ironman finishing criteria. 

Mr Barter, 35 who is Head of Business Development – Renewables for PD&MS Group, was originally due to take part in the ‘Ironman Copenhagen’ this weekend [August 22], but decided to keep the challenge local due to the pandemic and travel restrictions. He’s taking on the incredible physical effort for a cause close to his heart: Friends of ANCHOR.

He said: “I considered waiting until next year when I could travel to Copenhagen, but in doing that it would have been another year until I could fundraise for Friends of ANCHOR. The work the charity does is vital and the need for fundraising is higher now than ever due to the challenges of the pandemic”.

“Cancer waits for no one, and that’s a big part of why I decided to bite the bullet and do the challenge solo this year. It will be a much tougher test without the buzz and atmosphere of an official race day, and I hope it inspires people to support the cause”.

This will be Thomas’ third test of endurance for the charity, as he completed an Olympic triathlon and a half Ironman in 2019, raising £8,000 in the process. His efforts are in recognition of the care his wife Aimee received in the ANCHOR Unit while undergoing treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

“The support provided by Friends of ANCHOR was key to Aimee and I throughout her treatment. It helped us pick ourselves up, dust ourselves down and fight on. The charity was the backbone of the support we both desperately needed during that time, and we feel strongly about giving something back to the cause”, said Thomas.

Aimee, now 33, was diagnosed with the illness when she was just 27, not long after she and Thomas got married. She took part in Friends of ANCHOR’s Courage on the Catwalk event in 2017, raising more than £2,600.

Aimee, who works as an architect, said: “During my treatment it was wonderful to know there was that secondary support system from Friends of ANCHOR right beside me. Having the wellbeing team there alongside patients means having someone to listen if you need a chat, which is so important. The little daily pick-me-ups, like ice lollies, were always welcome, and the films and games provided some light-hearted relief”.

Aimee will be cheering Thomas on next Sunday when he begins his Ironman at 6.30am, with a 2.4mile open water swim in Knockburn Loch, before he gets on his bike to cover 112 miles, returning to Knockburn where the activity centre’s running track will provide the setting for his marathon.

“The thought of running 65 laps of the same track is really quite daunting so I’m counting on the support of friends and family who will be there and hopefully the kindness of others using Knockburn that day too. The Half Ironman I did in 2019 wiped me out physically and mentally, so I know what I’m getting myself in for and I’ve been training hard in preparation”, added Thomas.

Thomas’ fundraising will support Friends of ANCHOR’s ANCHORED Together appeal; a campaign to raise £2m towards the over-and-above costs of The ANCHOR Centre, a new NHS Grampian facility that will be the first of its kind in Scotland when it opens in 2023.

“The new ANCHOR Centre will further enhance the outstanding work of the NHS staff and Friends of ANCHOR, by delivering a fantastic environment for patients, family and staff”, said Thomas.

His fundraising page can be viewed online here: Virgin Money Giving | Ironman Copenhagen 2021

Erica Banks, Communications Lead at Friends of ANCHOR, said: “Thomas is no stranger to an endurance challenge, but the sheer scale of challenge as epic as an Ironman is something else. To have the excitement of travelling to Copenhagen and being motivated by the crowds and cheering is one thing, but Thomas has chosen to complete his Ironman solo, on his local roads and at his local activity centre. It’s an incredible undertaking and we’re very grateful of his support.”

As the dedicated charity for The ANCHOR Centre, Friends of ANCHOR’s fundraising will make possible the important enhancements that fall outwith the core cost of the build. The additional funds will equip the Centre with upgraded equipment, dedicated wellbeing spaces and improved furnishings.