Andrew gets going in tough Decaman charity challenge

Paul O'Gara (left), Community Fundraising Officer, Cancer Focus Northern Ireland (the new name for the Ulster Cancer Foundation) with Northern Ireland Decaman participants, Robert Davison and Andrew Hassard (right). INNT 27-210-CON
Paul O'Gara (left), Community Fundraising Officer, Cancer Focus Northern Ireland (the new name for the Ulster Cancer Foundation) with Northern Ireland Decaman participants, Robert Davison and Andrew Hassard (right). INNT 27-210-CON

While most folk are now looking forward to a well earned summer break, one Ballyclare man will instead be taking on one of the toughest challenges of his life for charity.

Andrew Hassard is attempting a mammoth triathlon each day for 10 days in aid of Cancer Focus Northern Ireland - which is the new name for the Ulster Cancer Foundation.

The gruelling Decaman triathlon is taking place at Eskragh Lough, Dungannon, from July 6 to 15. Andrew will have to swim 24 miles, which is further than the English Channel, cycle 1,120 miles - that is four times the length of Ireland, and run 262 miles - or 10 Belfast marathons - all in 10 days.

This race is the world’s hardest triathlon and there are only about 60 people who have managed to succeed. In comparison, more than 1,500 people have reached the top of Mount Everest.

Members of the public are invited to go along and take part in a distance and sport, namely cycling, swimming, running, of their choice, whether it’s one mile or 100 miles. The aim is to raise as much as possible for the Cancer Focus Northern Ireland Men’s Health campaign.

Andrew, who works for Chain Reaction Cycles in Doagh, has always been keen on sports and previously took part in a Four Peaks Challenge for Cancer Focus.

He said: “I was searching for something new to keep me fit and joined a triathlon club when my brother challenged me to enter an adventure race in August 2009. Eventually, I decided to do a ‘try-athlon’ purely to prove I didn’t like triathlon and had no interest in them. Famous last words.

“Fast forward a couple of years and I’ve done various triathlons, including four Ironman distance races - Ironman France 2010 in Nice and Groomsport Ireman in 2011, which I won; Enduroman Lanzarote in Feb 2012 and very recently I completed the Celtman in Scotland. Last June I finished sixth in Double Ironman UK in a time of 33 hrs 15 mins,” he said.

“I’ve also completed various adventure races, ultra-marathons and other long distance events. The challenge of going that little bit further than last time and completing what at first seems impossible just ticks a lot of boxes with me.

“The Decaman is going to be like no other challenge I’ve done, this will test mental and physical strength to the limit.

“I hope people will come along to Lough Eskragh to cheer us on and to help us raise money for Cancer Focus, which does so much excellent work with cancer patients and their families right across Northern Ireland.”

Cancer Focus Fundraising Officer Paul O’Gara said: “Cancer has a major impact on the health of men in Northern Ireland. Each year around 4,000 men are diagnosed with some form of the disease - that’s a shocking statistic.

“Money raised at this event will go towards our Men’s Health campaign which aims to minimise the impact of cancer among men. We bring fitness and health programmes such as smoking cessation clinics and Male Quick Fit checks into workplaces, and have a full range of counselling and support services for men and their families, a confidential helpline, and art and creative writing therapy.

“We would urge everyone to help us raise as much money as possible to continue funding these free services either by taking part in the Northern Ireladn Decaman Challenge or by supporting participants.”

The event is being kindly sponsored by Chain Reaction Cycles, High 5, Gatorade, Compressport, ZeroD, Elite Timing - the chosen timing partner for the NI.Decaman Challenge, JJ Ballantine and Co Insurance Services, Performance Nutrition Plus and Awen Sport.

Simon Cordner, PR Manager, Chain Reaction Cycles, said: “Decaman is a tough challenge for super-fit people who want to test their mettle but there are also challenges for people with different levels of fitness and abilities. We hope to see as many of you as possible take up your own challenge at this event and test your personal limits for this great cause.”

Show your support for the NI Decaman fundraising campaign by texting DECA10 £x amount to 70070 or follow the challenge on Facebook.