Feature: Ollie Halliday and his Ironman journey

Royston-born Ollie Halliday pushes the boundaries for SCOPE

MY name is Ollie Halliday and I am 27 years old. I am a Royston boy and always will be. I grew up in the beautiful town and went to school here. Like many young people, I soon felt the need to do some exploring and so I moved to Norway in January 2009 to start a new business and follow a dream. But ever since I left Greneway School I feel I have developed an inner desire to push my own body and mind to new and more extreme levels ultimately leading me towards becoming an Ironman.

The Ironman is the ultimate challenge. It’s one of the toughest and most brutal endurance events in the world and involves swimming 2.4 miles, cycling 112 miles and finishing it off by running a full marathon – all in under 17 hours. When I told people that I was planning on doing this, they said I was crazy, but I truly believe there is an Ironman in everyone.

On Sunday, August 1, I woke at 2am to begin my journey to the start line of the UK Ironman in Bolton. At 5.30am me and 1,399 other competitors slowly made our way down into the murky green water at Pennington Flash Country Park and waited treading water, with a quiet but energized anticipation of what we were about to undertake.

When the start gun went, signaling the beginning of the race, it represented the beginning of the most challenging day I would ever face. The same goes for most of the 1399 other competitors who bravely fought to hold their position in the water, using their arms and legs to push people off if needed, it was like swimming in a washing machine. My parents described it as being complete chaos which headed off into the distance.

I have two main reasons for doing the Ironman, firstly, for SCOPE and all the children and adults in the UK with cerebral palsy (CP) and also for my late Grandmother, Pat Broady, who recently passed away after bravely fighting lung cancer.

People with Cerebral Palsy suffer varying forms of physical disability and these people have been an inspiration to me. I have had the pleasure of meeting many children and young adults who live with CP and every one I have met seem to have an endless amount of love to share as well as a strength and kindness. The people I have met are also very happy and they have taught me a lot, but one thing above all that stands out is the importance of experiencing the joy of every present moment we have. We also have many similarities, one being that they too must train each and every day, their event being staying fit for life and the ability to live life to its fullest.

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That is why I did my event for SCOPE, which is a charity that aims to bring more equality to children and adults with CP living in the UK. And, even though this challenge started out as a dream for me, it’s also helping to fulfill the dreams of many more people just like me.

I finished the swim (after being knocked about the head and body) in 1 hour 10 minutes and proceeded to the bike section which added a further 6 hours 40 minutes onto my race time. After I had very gladly swapped my bike for a pair of running shoes it was only another 3 hours 38 minutes until I finally made my way towards the red carpet of the finish line. What an experience it was, listening to the crowd cheering and feeling the complete elation and pride that comes from getting to the end of something so unimaginably big. I finished in 191st place and my finish time was 11 hours 37 minutes.

And for all those people who are thinking about something they have always dreamt of doing, whether it be getting fit, running a marathon, seeing an old friend, starting a new business, then I would say if not now, then when?

My charity page: www.virginmoneygiving.com/oliverhalliday Ironman web page: www.ironmanuk.com

SCOPE web page: www.scope.org.uk