May's Charity Champion: Peter Harding undertakes 'Half Ironman' for charity SCOPE

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Ex-Director of CareandCompare.com, Peter Harding, is no stranger to difficult challenges in order to raise money for charity.  But on June 14th in Staffordshire, he will take on his biggest challenge so far, 'Half Ironman', covering 70.3 miles in one day!

The Half Ironman is a  Triathlon, which consists of a 1.2Mile Swim, a 56mile Bike Ride, and a 13.1Mile Run.  Peter will be putting himself through this punishing level of activity in order to raise funds for the charity SCOPE, which exists to make the UK a place where disabled people have the same opportunities as everyone else. 

We caught up with Peter in-between his busy work and training schedule to ask him a few questions.

C&C: Peter – When did you start running in charity races, and what motivated you to do so?

Peter: I started running in May 2013.  I have never been a particularly fit person but back then I could not run a quarter of a mile without stopping!  Fitness was definitely the reason I started running but after completing my first 10k race on June 23rd 2013 in Caerphilly, it really opened my eyes into the reasons most people there were running - they were wearing t-shirts with charity logos, or  t-shirts with photos of loved ones printed on them. I remember one particular group of family and friends running and spectating all wearing the same t-shirts, raising money and awareness for a charity that obviously meant a lot to them.  I remember thinking that the man in that photo would be very proud of each and every one of them.  From that day on I stopped idolising the guys in the front and started admiring the people at the back, the ones putting themselves through hell to raise money for causes that will help so many people throughout the world.  So after that I started training for my first half marathon in Longleat, which more importantly was my first fund-raising event - that was in aid of the British Heart Foundation.

C&C:  The Half Ironman seems an enormous challenge! What made you decide to attempt it?

Peter:  I love raising money for charity, but I find it hard to ask for sponsorship money for completing race distances that I have already accomplished, and so having run a full marathon last year the Half Ironman seemed like the next step!

C&C: Can you give us a few details about your training schedule and diet?  For example, which bits do you enjoy and which are you finding difficult?

Peter: My diet since January has consisted of a high fibre breakfast with a banana, three tupperware boxes throughout the day containing chicken breast, tuna, spinach, wholegrain rice and a boiled egg, followed by a protein shake before bed.  I have of course had some mishaps along the way but all in all my diet has been quite strict. 

My training also started in January and has involved training six days a week, pretty much every week. In the early part of the year this involved a lot of weight training for my legs, shoulders and core body strength, now the race is getting closer all weight training has stopped and I am currently running, cycling and swimming twice a week.

I am really enjoying cycling because you can travel such a large distance in a small amount of time with the opportunity to take in some amazing views. The most difficult part is definitely the swimming, mainly because the improvements are very slow.  Also I've had a few situations where I can swim 50 lengths one day without an issue, then struggle to coordinate my breathing the next day which makes completing 30 lengths a battle.

Cycling training
C&C: Why are you doing this challenge for SCOPE?

Peter: SCOPE is a fantastic charity, one that is very close to my heart.  It helps disabled people and their families, but the main reason I like this charity is because it has many different dimensions to the way in which it offers support, which means it is there for disabled people throughout their lives.

One arm of SCOPE provides support to parents.  Most disabilities are hard enough to pronounce let alone understand, and parents are faced with having to care for their child without fully understanding initially what their child's needs will be and how to best support them as they grown and develop. There is no guidebook to parenting! There definitely isn’t one when your child has a disability, luckily SCOPE is there to help, with advice and support on how to care for people with disability on a daily basis, and also help with what equipment  may be required to accommodate special needs. 

The other arm of SCOPE is designed to help young disabled adults get independency, which involves helping them find suitable accommodation, get work experience and give them socialising opportunities.

C&C:  Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to start raising money for charity through physical challenges? 

Peter: Pick a good cause, and tell people your reason for choosing that charity, then keep people updated with your progress and they will hopefully get behind you.

Getting ready to swim in the lake
C&C: Are you planning another big challenge after this one?  

Peter: To be honest I am going to see how this Half Ironman goes first, this is such a mammoth task for me I am struggling to look past it.

Thank you Peter, that's fascinating.  We'll be following your progress from now until the event on June 14th and hope we can raise awareness of your brilliant effort so that even more money is raised for SCOPE. GOOD LUCK!!

We will be supporting Peter’s endeavours by donating 25% of all company profits from now until the end of June.

If you would like to donate too, go here, where you can also follow Peter’s fundraising progress:
http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/peterharding5