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Soldier completes gruelling 140-mile Ironman for bereaved military children


For most people, a 2.4-mile swim immediately followed by 112-mile cycle and 26.2-mile marathon is enough of a challenge. But, despite having never attempted an Ironman before, REME vehicle mechanic, Cpl Alan Jones, undertook the recent Bolton Ironman Challenge wearing full military gear, including a 12kg bergen strapped to his the back for the entire duration of the marathon.

“I’m in the Army and I have two kids,” says Alan. “If anything were to happen to me, I don’t know what my kids would do. Because of that, everything Scotty’s do really resonates with me.”

Alan Jones running the Bolton Ironman

Alan Jones running the Bolton Ironman

Setting off from Bolton Town Hall on the 3rd of July, competitors traversed an enormous 140.6 miles over land, earth and sea before looping back to the finish line in Bolton Town Centre.

“I hadn’t done an Ironman before and I just wanted to jump straight in,” explains Alan. “The way I looked at it was loads of people do the Ironman every year, so I wanted to up the difficulty a bit. Since I was doing it for Scotty’s, I decided to keep it military themed and wear my full kit the whole time – boots, trousers, t-shirt and a bergen with 12 kilos in it.”

Alan and his golden retriever training for the Ironman triathlon

Alan and his golden retriever training for the Ironman triathlon

The first section of the race went well. Alan had hoped to complete the 2.4-mile swim in an hour and 15 minutes and ended up doing so in an hour and 16, just one minute off his ideal time.   

“Swimming was the easiest bit for me. I’m a fairly strong swimmer and I was able to pace myself. The only thing was that, with so many people in the water at once, you sometimes got in each other's way – banging into each other and stuff. That added to my time a little, but I managed to make it up.” 

The second section of the race – a 112-mile cycle – caused Alan the most trouble, with lots of uphill segments forcing him to push himself harder than he had anticipated.  

Alan after the 2.4 mile swim

Alan after the 2.4 mile swim

“It was a lot hillier than I had thought it would be. It took a lot out of my legs, which meant when I got around to doing the marathon, I could feel my body wanting to cramp up the whole time.” 

Despite the setback, Alan pushed through and completed the race in an impressive 15 hours and 30 minutes – and he did it with Scotty’s at the front of his mind. 

“I just kept thinking, ‘I’ve got to finish this. There are lot of people who have donated a lot of money to Scotty’s.’ Plus, I’m never one to quit something at the best of times.” 

Alan during the 112-mile cycle ride

Alan during the 112-mile cycle ride

As a result of his efforts, Alan raised £1,460 for Scotty’s Little Soldiers – money which will help us ensure we can continue offering educational, emotional and practical support to bereaved military children and young people. 

“My original target was £1000, but we were able to keep raising money even after the race. The Ironman crowd are amazing – they’re so generous and so supportive, they make you feel like a little celebrity.”   

When asked what advice he would give other people thinking about taking on a triathlon, Alan’s answer is simple: 

“Train. Train early. And then train some more. Oh, and if you’re doing it in Bolton, make sure to train on the hills!” 

Alan waving the Scotty's flag at the finish line

Alan waving the Scotty's flag at the finish line

Scotty’s Little Soldiers is a charity dedicated to supporting children and young people (0 to 25 years) who have experienced the death of a parent who served in the British Armed Forces.  

Inspired by the experience of Army widow Nikki Scott, following the death of her husband Corporal Lee Scott in Afghanistan in 2009, the charity, which was set up in 2010, provides support and guidance to hundreds of bereaved military children and young people throughout their childhood. 

Services offered to Scotty’s members include access to child bereavement support, guidance to parents and carers, personal education and learning assistance (including grants), and fun activities such as holiday respite breaks and group events. These are all designed to remind the children and young people supported by Scotty’s that they are not alone.   

Scotty’s Little Soldiers’ founder, Nikki Scott, said: “Finishing the Ironman is a huge achievement on its own, let alone completing your first ever Ironman in full military gear! Alan’s dedication to doing the race in his Army kit is a great way to honour our Member’s parents who have also served in the Armed Forces, and every penny he’s raised will go to making sure their children can continue to receive Scotty’s support.” 

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