As a serving soldier, Steve Barrett is entitled to pride himself on his high level of fitness.
But the 30-year-old sergeant with the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards admits his powers of endurance were tested to the limit when he tackled the infamous Ironman challenge in Edinburgh.
A 1.2-mile swim in the freezing North Sea at Preston Links, 56-mile cycle from Cockenzie to Holyrood Park, and then three laps of the grounds taking in Arthur’s Seat and Holyrood Palace to complete the 13.1 mile half marathon distance left even him a bit short of breath at the end!
Steve, who lives with his partner, Dhana (28), and their 16-week-old son, Theo, at Charles Sneddon Avenue in Bo’ness, was motivated to enter the Ironman 70.3 event after being given the shock news an uncle has been diagnosed with terminal cancer.
He competed in Edinburgh on July 2 determined to do what he could for Macmillan Cancer Support and so far has raised £1500 for the charity that is there for cancer patients and their families.
Despite his preparations being interupted by Theo being born 10 weeks’ early and the health complications the infant faced as a result, Sergeant Barrett produced a performance to be proud of, completing the course in six hours 22 minutes for a place in the top 1000 from the 2000 entries.
Steve said: “Knowing about my uncle’s situation made me even more determined to cross that finishing line.
“I had managed to get a solid nine weeks’ training in before Theo was born, but had to stop after that because we were spending most of the time with him in hospital because he really was quite ill.
“Knowing about my uncle though meant there was no way I was going to pull out. He was the inspiration I used to be as well prepared as I could be on the day.
“The swim was something I’d never experienced before. Apart from it being freezing, the sea was very harsh and the current very strong. I found out later around 60 competitors had been pulled out of the water by the safety boats so I was more than happy to have completed the circuit in 22 minutes.
“The cycle was the part I was most concerned about. The first 10 miles were flat, then the hills arrived and that was very challenging, but I finished the course in four hours which was good.
“I found the half marathon easier than I expected and managed to cross the line in two hours. Although I had done it in around one hour 20 or 30 in training, I still felt pretty good about that.
“The whole event was a tough day out, but I’m glad I did it and delighted to have raised so much for what our family agree is such a deserving cause.”
Steve, who was born in Polmont but lived in Bo’ness since he was 13, joined Scotland’s Light Cavalry Regiment in 2005.
He has a few more weeks yet to enjoy at home with Dhana and Theo before returning to his ‘day job’ as a tank commander when the Scots DG leave in September for a six-month deployment in Cyprus.