A DETERMINED dad has endured a gruelling day on the road, bike and water to complete in one of the toughest races in the UK.
Dave Gaskell, 44, was one of the top finishers, completing the gruelling course in 13 hours and seven seconds.
The former rugby player competed in the North West Ironman triathlon challenge in Bolton on Sunday.
He said: “It was so tough, there was many obstacles and things which got in the way but I absolutely loved it.
“The bike round was the hardest as my bike broke down and it had a puncture which slowed me down.
“I think I lost about half an hour but I’m still so happy that I did so well.
“It was pouring down as well but that was probably a good thing as it cooled me down when I was running.
“I have been competing in the triathlons for the past four years now and it just becomes so addictive – triathlons are more of a lifestyle choice than a hobby.
“I really had to stick with this and work at it everyday in order to finish it successfully.
“I used to play rugby and I would say it is a thousand times harder.
“It’s a life-changing experience and I’m so lucky to have such an amazing understanding partner - Janet Lawton.
“She’s been a long-standing fan and my best supporter. Our 14-year-old son, Callum, now plays rugby and loved watching me in the triathlon.
“He now plays rugby and I think challenges like this inspire him to push himself further.”
The Ironman challenge took place throughout the North West including at Pennington Flash in Leigh.
Contestants had to complete a 2.4 mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile marathon.
This had to be finished all within a gruelling 17 hours.
Dave, of Chirton Close, Haydock, first began to undertake the strict challenge four years ago after being heavily persuaded by friends who had already completed it.
Now, years later, he still has the drive and the passion to continue to compete in the triathlon many more times.
He is already planning his training regime for next year.
Dave added: “I cannot wait to compete next year again and hopefully do better still.
“It’s in my blood now and I can’t imagine ever not doing this.
“Next year I might even complete the triathlon in Lanzarote which is supposed to be one of the toughest challenges in the world.
“I will start training about nine months in advance. But for now I am looking forward to a few months off chilling out.”