Is this the hardest way to reach Paris, By Keith Joy from Community Times Croydon
8th July 2010
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Is this the hardest way to reach Paris, by Keith Joy from Community Times Croydon


Fancy a trip to Paris? Most people would jump at the chance - but what if you had to get there using nothing but your own body power?


That's no car, no Eurostar and even no ferry. You will be running, kayaking and cycling. Still tempted?

Three Croydon men decided to take on this very challenge in aid of the charity Help for Heroes and left London at 9am on Saturday morning on the first leg of their trip.

The Best of Croydon member, gym owner and fitness coach Martin Dilworth, 47, lead a team of 5 in the unique charity 'triathlon', which took them 6 days.

The team ran from the Tower of London to Dover in three days, that's the equivalent to more than a marathon a day before paddling across the English Channel in kayaks in a day.

The final leg of the journey saw them cycle the remaining 220 miles from Calais to Paris over the course of 2 days.

Dilworth, ex serviceman, was joined by Nigel Hodge, 35 and Stace Fencott, both from Croydon, David Sullivan from Oxted and Penny Ashby, 33, from Pevensey.

The team had been training for at least 2 hours a day at Dilworth's gym, Dynamo Boxing, in Carlton Road, South Croydon.

Dilworth said "It was very taxing, with the most daunting and fatiguing parts being getting sore backsides from the two days' cycling, plus the Channel crossing.

"With high winds and choppy seas, you can paddle for hours and get nowhere - plus we were dodging ferries and tankers.

"However, it wasn't as daunting as having no legs, which is what has happened to many service personnel. One minute they're OK and the next they're looking up at the sky wondering why they can't stand up. They face a future that's uncertain but radically changed.

"These people have motivated us to undertake a real challenge - something that's going to hurt. The endurance required on our part is nothing compared with the endurance they have shown in their fight just to carry on with life."

At 26, Fencott is the youngest of the five but the former Whitgift School pupil was confident he could complete the challenge, particularly with the cause being close to his heart.

"I have several mates in the services and who are ex-servicemen, and one of our trainers at the gym has lost a couple of friends in Afghanistan when he was in the Marines", he said.

"One reason for doing this was to raise money for Help for Heroes, and the other was on a personal level, to push myself.

"It was a massive challenge but at the same time I don't think we would have gone in for this if we didn't think we could do it. The kayaking was a whole new experience and although we had only done only session on the water we had been adapting our workouts to suit the kayaking."

The event was the brainchild of team member Sullivan, a golf professional who once broke four world records by hitting a golf ball 1,100 miles from Land's End to John O'Greats.

You can still donate online at - every pound counts so please give as much as you can.

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Maud T

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