17 June 2008

Rather him than me

I’m a keen swimmer but have a preference for safe, quiet waters...the local baths for instance. I’ve done a fair bit of swimming in the sea but having once had a close encounter with a floater and having been caught in a riptide that nearly swept me to Papua New Guinea, I’m more likely to be found these days struggling to keep up with the grannies in the fast lane. What I would never do is swim the Manchester Ship Canal but that’s exactly what James Whittaker, development director of MSC owner Peel Holdings, is going to do. Now I know that you should have belief in your brand but isn’t this going a bit far? Actually, 36 miles too far because that’s how long the thing is. Good man, though, because he’s also raising money for charity as well as launching the company’s £50bn Ocean Gateway scheme. I advise two or three wetsuits at least and maybe a nice mac...

Crain’s Manchester Business reports:

James Whittaker, development director at Peel Holdings, will swim 36 miles of the Manchester Ship Canal on September 5 and 6 to launch the company’s £50bn Ocean Gateway scheme. Proposals to the scheme will also be revealed to specially invited guests during the two-day event.The swim will also raise money for Manchester’s New Children's Hospital Appeal.

P.S. I did a bit of digging and it seems James is a glutton for punishment - and quite possibly a candidate for sainthood. This from the Peel Holdings news pages:

James Whittaker and Richard Mawdsley have agreed to push their bodies to the limits with a 2.5 mile swim, followed by a 112 mile bicycle ride and topped off with a full 26.2 mile marathon for The Message Trust, a Christian charity that helps disadvantaged children in the Manchester region.

Both competitors have been training hard for the Ironman European Championships 2007, an endurance race which will take place in Frankfurt, Germany, on 1st July 2007.

Since training began last October the duo have run 1,750 miles (the equivalent of 68 marathons), swam 320 miles (14.5 times across the English Channel) and have cycled the distance of the Tour du France two and a half times covering 5,400 miles. The total hours trained equates to more than 360 hours.

James Whittaker, property director at Peel Holdings, said: “This will be the biggest challenge of my life as the Ironman race is one of the most extreme endurance races in the world. It’s not only going to be physically demanding but also psychologically tough.I agreed to take part to raise much needed funds for The Message Trust – an amazing charity which is committed to creating opportunities for young people in the region. If all goes well on the day we’re aiming to finish the challenge in less than 12 hours - that would place us in the top half of the 2,000 competitor field.”

Sadly there's no report of how well they did but you have to take your hat off to them. I myself am training for the 'Chalkman Championships', a tough tripartite challenge comprising: running a bath, followed by unfolding one's fold-up bicycle and stumbling to the nearest chair for a sit-down and cup of tea.

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