A FATHER and his friends are enjoying a well-earned rest after taking part in a mammoth coast-to-coast challenge for charity.
Ivan Hollingsworth was joined by ten pals as he cycled 100 miles, swam a mile and ran nearly 80 miles over three days from Whitehaven in Cumbria to Tynemouth.
The endurance challenge, named C2C3, was held in aid of the children’s heart unit fund (Chuf) at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital.
Ivan and his wife Nadine have been raising money for the unit ever since it saved the life of their son Seb, three, after he was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect called tetralogy of Fallot as a baby as their way of showing their gratitude.
So far, the Monkseaton family have managed to raise more than £217,000 for the charity – and Ivan’s latest endurance challenge has already brought in £40,000, and he is hoping that it will pass the £50,000 mark once all the sponsorship money pledged is collected.
The latest challenge saw Ivan and the team cycle 30 miles from Whitehaven to Derwentwater on Sunday, the swimming a mile in the lake before cycling a further 70 miles east to Brampton.
The following day, they ran a double marathon, covering 52 miles from Brampton to Wylam in Northumberland.
Then on Tuesday, they ran a single marathon from there to Tynemouth Long Sands, where they were greeted by hundreds of people waiting on the beach.
The 36-year-old, a rep for a pharmaceutical firm, said: “This was probably the hardest sea-to-sea ever.
“It’s very draining, but it’s all worthwhile when you come down here and get this kind of reception.
“There’s one reason why we’re doing this, and it’s for children like Seb and others who have potentially life-threatening heart problems.
“It’s also quite emotional that these people have taken time away from their families to do this with us. That’s really inspiring.
“We want to recognise their achievements and want to raise awareness of Chuf. It’s all about raising their profile and encouraging others to maybe pick up the baton and help the charity grow.”
Ivan was joined by Nadine, 35, for the last 13 miles of the run and by Seb for the final stretch of their journey across Long Sands beach.
He said: “We miss Seb even if we’re away from home for an hour, but to be away from him for two days is massive. The scar on his chest is a massive reminder of what he has been through.”
Ivan trained twice a day in the lead-up to the challenge and joined by up to 60 people for different parts of the journey.
He added: “The reality of throwing in the swim is that it brought a huge physical challenge.”
Nadine, an Olympic torchbearer in North Shields in June, said: “It’s completely overwhelming to see everyone at Tynemouth waiting to greet us.
“We do what we do because we want to say thank you to the Freeman Hospital for saving Seb’s life.
“We hope people come along to support us and find out why we’re doing it, but when we come down here and there’s hundreds of people, I can’t put the feelings into words. It’s just incredibly humbling and inspiring.”
All the runners, supporters, family and friends marked the end of the challenge with a dip in the sea prior to a party at Crusoe’s café.
Anyone wanting to make a donation to the charity can text CHUF99 £5 or £10 to 70070.