IF things go to plan, Ironman competitors Rowan and David Ardill will be brothers in arms – literally – when they cross the finish line on Sunday.
The sports-mad siblings, who are both event directors at the Bolton parkrun, are taking part in the ultimate test of endurance together for the first time.
Bury-based Rowan, aged 27, is returning for his second attempt after completing the 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile cycle and 26-mile run in 2012, finishing in 11hrs 39mins 15secs.
He is aiming to beat that time, but will have one eye on his older brother during what will be his Ironman debut.
David, aged 29, who lives in Hyde, is taking part in memory of one of his best friends, former journalist David Lawson, who died of throat cancer in January, aged just 34.
“I turn 30 later this year and I had been planning to take on some kind of challenge to mark my birthday,” explained David.
“I was at the finish line to cheer on my brother in 2012, but while I had toyed with the idea of doing the Ironman, after seeing up close what the competitors went through I think I needed something else to tip me over the edge. Then David got sick.
“We had been talking about taking on a challenge together, so he then became my main motivation.
“David was a remarkable guy. He loved doing charity runs and, even though he was diagnosed with cancer in 2012, he kept on doing them, taking part in a 10k run in our hometown of Ellesmere, in Shropshire, last August.
“He even did a charity walk up Rodney’s Pillar – a local landmark – three weeks before he died.
“So I had David in my mind in the difficult times during training. Knowing that I am helping to raise money in his name really helped me through and hopefully that is what will drive me on during the race.”
David’s determination has also helped spur on Rowan.
The brothers have put in almost 2,000 miles together in training – in the water, on foot and in the saddle – since November, practicing the swim at Salford Quays and training on the Ironman route around Bolton.
“It has been great to be able to train with my brother, as the first time I did the Ironman the 100-mile sessions on the bike got pretty lonely,” said Rowan, who was originally inspired to do the event in his previous job working with the Get Active team in Bolton.
“We already spend a lot of time together in our jobs,” added Rowan, who now works for British Cycling, alongside David, at Manchester Velodrome. “But the training has brought us even closer.
“It does make me proud, to see what he has gone through to get to this point.
“He has had some pretty dark moments on those long rides, but it will be worth it when he gets past the finishing post and I hope to be the first to congratulate him.”
David has already raised £1,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support via www.justgiving.com/David-Ardill while the brothers are also raising money for QE Hospital Trust – www.justgiving.com/DAIM – where their father was treated after suffering a brain haemorrhage.
To follow their progress on the day, Rowan will be wearing vest number 207, while David’s number is 529.