EVERYONE loves a challenge, but one Bury man of steel is set to take part in a gruelling endurance event enough to make the most ardent fitness fanatic blush.

Mark Yates, a 46-year-old former soldier from Brandlesholme, is gearing up to run, swim and cycle in the Enduroman Arch to Arc ultra-distance triathlon, from London’s Marble Arch to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

The triathlon sees intrepid athletes undertake a staggering 87 mile run from Marble Arch to Dover, followed by 21 mile cross-Channel swim, topped of by exhaustion inducing 180 mile bike ride from Calais to the Arc de Triomphe in the French capital.

No stranger to backbreaking feats of physical endurance Mr Yates has previously completed several Ironman triathlons, in which competitors take on a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bicycle ride and a full 26.22 mile marathon run, in order and without a break.

And if that was not enough Mr Yates has also created and successfully finished his own intimidating Deca Ironman event ­— which involves completing 10 full Ironman races back to back ­— known as the Ugly 10.

Mr Yates said: “I have always been active and into fitness and sports, but in 2010 I had a hip operation and didn’t know if I would be able to enjoy sport again.

“As part of my recovery I set myself a challenge and did the Bolton Ironman in 2013 and again in 2014.

"I really enjoyed it and my body held up so I decided to push myself.”

Mr Yates said that the key to him completing these endurance events is his mental toughness, adding: “I’m not a really fit guy, just really determined and maybe a bit stubborn, and I can keep putting myself under physical and mental pressure.”

In the run up to the event Mr Yates will train for an average of 20 hours a week, plus perform strength and conditioning and stretching exercises.

He will then embark on his gargantuan trial sometime between September 15 and 24, depending on the English Channel’s tides.

During the race he will be supported by a team of family and friends who will ensure he is hydrated, fed and in good shape throughout.

He said: “I’m looking forward to the event and I think the best thing about this kind of thing is that, even though it is a solo effort, I have a great team around me. I have never done a sea swim before so that will be taking me out of my comfort zone and pushing me to my limits.”

During the lead up to the triathlon Mr Yates is fundraising for ABF The Soldier’s Charity, which provides support to soldiers, veterans and their families, and is a cause close to his heart.

He said: “I find out a lot about myself doing these challenges and also a lot about my team. These are solo efforts, but my team make it work.

“It’s also a great chance to raise money for the ABF. I’m doing this out of choice and I will be putting myself in the hurt locker. But the ABF help a lot of people and their families who don’t have a choice.”

To support Mr Yates and donate visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/mark-yates18.