A challenge that goes far beyond fitness

Housing Support Manager Wendy with the Henshaws team (s)
Housing Support Manager Wendy with the Henshaws team (s)

A team of ten people with visual impairments and disabilities from Harrogate’s Henshaws Society for Blind People will compete in the Skipton Triathlon next month.

The team will take on the September 1 challenge, which involves a swim, bike ride and run.

Samuel Garwood, 38, is a member of the team, and has a severe visual impairment.

He will compete in the cycle and running stages.

He said: “I was part of the team for the last event and it was an amazing experience.

“My mum and dad came to watch and, as well as being egged on by the other competitors all the way round, we got lots of cheers at the end!

“Our training has been great! Alastair and the rest of the volunteering team have been a huge support – building our confidence and improving our fitness with some creative training methods.”

A Henshaws spokesperson said: “The Skipton triathlon is a huge learning curve for the team.

“The challenges they face go far beyond those of fitness.

“The simple tasks able-bodied competitors find automatic are a completely different experience for people with visual impairments and disabilities.”

Skipton Triathlon organiser, Peter Mathieson, said: “I’m really pleased to welcome the Henshaws team back to the Skipton Triathlon.

“Our philosophy is based on pushing physical limits and stretching yourself in a fun and challenging environment – the passion of the Henshaws team epitomises this. They really are truly inspirational.”

The Triathlon team is overseen by Henshaws volunteer Alastair Locke.

Alastair said: “Since retiring five years ago I’d been looking for the right opportunity to give something back through volunteering.

“Being an active sportsman, I knew a triathlon would be an excellent challenge and so the idea for the Henshaws triathlon team was born.”

Due to the team’s disabilities, machines and techniques need to be modified and made accessible.

One of these methods includes a piece of elastic attached to a running machine to help the runners feel the centre of the track – allowing them to position themselves correctly.

The team consists ofTracey Clarke, 39, Michael Dawson, 37, Shelley Moore, 33, Samuel Garwood, 38, Jennie Hayes, 38, Steve Macdonald, 42, Rebecca Lobl, 40, Nick Cordier, 38, Debra Roberts, 45 and Danny Fryer, 32.

Those who wish to support the team or donate can call 01423 541558.