A trio of friends and former Tring School students completed a gruelling Ironman triathlon together at the weekend.
Stuart Abel, Stephen Bumstead and Steven Dodd trained for months to make sure they were fit enough to tackle the challenge, which included a 2.4 mile swim and an 112 mile bike ride, all finished off with a marathon.
Stuart, who how lives in London’s Maida Vale, finished in 11hrs, 34mins and 21secs.
He said: “It was tough – I was expecting a fairly flat run but it wasn’t. I kind of hit a wall. I felt sick but I pushed through.”
Stuart, 33, was cheered across the finishing line by his mum, dad and brother Russell, along with wife Anette who is expecting their first child in September. Sister Nikki sent encouraging texts and Facebook messages from her home in Australia.
Stuart is no stranger to endurance events, as he took part in last year’s Ironman and raised £3,500 for Prostate Cancer UK.
He said: “I’m thinking about doing one a year now, to keep me out of trouble.”
He and Steven have been friends since their first year at Tring School, and have kept in touch since they left in 1998.
Steven, now recovering on holiday in Marbella, completed the course in 11hrs, 12mins and 7secs.
Mum Maria lives in Hemel Hempstead and travelled to Bolton with daughter Katy to cheer her son on. She said: “They were absolutely brilliant, I think they were amazed they did it.”
Steven, who now lives in Birkenhead, Liverpool, completed the event in aid of Scope – a national charity which supports disabled children – and raised £1,500 through his efforts.
Fellow triathlete Stephen Bumstead was in the year below Stuart and Steven, and until earlier this year had not seen the other two for about a decade.
A personal trainer, Stephen said: “When we met up, it was like it was yesterday.
“They had signed up to do it earlier, but we only found out in June that we were all doing it together.”
The 32-year-old, who lives in Eaton Bray, finished in 12hrs, 35mins and 35 secs, after training since January. He said: “When I finished, it was quite overwhelming. I felt a bit of relief, a bit of joy. I enjoy the pain!
“It was on my bucket list. I’ve done the London Marathon and a couple of half Ironmans, so I just naturally progressed.”