James Perry Banner
James Perry Banner

Meaningful Mantra Helps Ironman Contestant Raise More Than £6,000

Fundraiser James Perry smashed his way through a 1.9km swim, an 89.6km cycle ride and a 21.3km run by focusing on the memory of his beloved uncle.

The 30-year-old raised more than £6,000 by thinking to himself “what would Des do?” throughout his Ironman challenge, raising vital funds for ellenor.

James’s uncle Des, a keen cyclist who suffered from Motor Neurone Disease (MND), died in June 2020 at the age of 62. He received care from ellenor during his illness, and the charity continues to support his widow Louise Keehan, who is James’s aunt.

The Ironman 70.3 Marbella, a challenging long-distance triathlon, was held in Southern Spain in September -- and James completed the cycling section on his late uncle’s very high spec road bike.

James said: “As I was mentally preparing myself before the swim, I kept asking myself “what would Des do (WWDD) if he were here?”. I landed on three things. Firstly, Des would have a smile on his face, secondly, he wouldn't be flustered by the challenge -- his laid-back attitude would have kept him calm and relaxed -- and thirdly he would finish it!

“Those three things stuck with me throughout the event, and I hope I was able to stay true to my WWDD mantras. I tried to smile, tried to stay calm and, no matter the state I was in, I was determined to finish it. It kept me focussed despite the pain.”

The 30-year-old, who is based in London and works for a financial technology company, said: “It was a half distance Ironman and about one or two hours into it I was thinking I could easily do a full Ironman, but by the end of it I had decided absolutely not! One day I will do it though.

“The swimming part was delightful, and the sea was lovely. The sun was just rising, and it was stunning, but the cycle was quite challenging. It was getting hot by the end of it and by the time the run started it was 29 degrees and the hottest part of the day.

“I hadn’t had much of a chance to train in that sort of heat at home because our summer wasn’t very hot here. I was drained by the end of it.

“I did a lot of swimming when I was growing up and I have taken part in other endurance events involving cycling and running. I’d done the swimming section of a triathlon before, but this was my first full triathlon and I’m really keen to do another one now.

 “I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who donated. In total we've managed to raise £6,617 including gift aid, which really is mind-blowing! That's £3,758 for the Motor Neurone Disease Association and £2,859 for ellenor.

“I asked my aunt, Louise, who I should raise the money for, and she was very resolute that ellenor should benefit. I already knew about the charity and the hospice as a work colleague’s grandparents were looked after by ellenor.

“Quite a few people have reached out to me through this. I really can't believe the generosity shown and the number of people who have sent me messages talking about their own experiences of family members and friends who have had MND. This is a very special cause and I personally feel as though our contribution can make a difference.

“Des was always present in my life. My family lived in Bahrain until I was about 10, but we always used to visit Des and Louise, and when we moved back to the UK, they were very much part of our lives. I have very fond memories of Des; he was a cheeky chap with a smile on his face. He would always crack jokes and, when I was 12 or 13, he was probably the first adult not to speak to me as if I was a child. I think he would be quite impressed by what I have done, but he would make a joke of it all.

“It was very kind of Louise, to say I could have Des’s bike. The opportunity to do the Ironman came up and I thought that if I had this lovely bike, I should do something with it, in memory of Des.”

James has already signed up for an Olympic distance triathlon in the Cotswolds in May next year and would like to do a second one in September, possibly in Weymouth.

He won’t be doing too much triathlon training in the middle part of the year though as he is due to marry fiancée Annie in June.

“I have been told I will need to focus on the wedding,” he joked.