Triathletes raise £2500 for GARC by competing in first ever Irish Ironman race

Triathlon biker
Tom Willis rides during the cycling leg of the Cork Triathalon. (Photo: Alice Horgan)

Four British friends, Jeremy Ward, Will Hudson, Will Willis and Tom Willis, decided to turn their planned triathlon adventure into a charity fundraiser, raising funds of nearly £10K for GARC and other organizations. They were inspired after hearing Professor Sarah Cleaveland, a highly regarded researcher from the University of Glasgow, speak at the Royal Society about her work in rabies control and the challenges facing rabies-endemic countries. By securing several sponsors in advance of Ireland’s first ever Ironman triathlon, the four were able to provide GARC with a £2500 donation after swimming 3.9 km, biking 180 km, and running a marathon over the course of one day.

(From left to right) Will Willis, Jeremy Ward and Tom Willis running the second half of the marathon. (Photo: Alice Horgan))
Will Willis, Jeremy Ward and Tom Willis (From left to right) completed the second half of the marathon leg of the triathlon. (Photo: Alice Horgan)

After a 4:30 am wakeup call and a long rain delay, the team of friends finally hopped onto their bikes around 7:30 am. Facing winds of up to 25 mph and torrential rain all day, the athletes found the conditions made the event even more demanding, and even the front runners such as double Olympic gold medalist Alistair Brownlee MBE struggled to get through the day. Despite these setbacks, all four friends finished the race within a reasonable time. While they were pleased with their successful fundraising efforts, the friends vowed never to do another triathlon again, due to the extreme physical exertion required. 

“We took the decision to raise funds for three charities that were not necessarily in the British public’s eye with the hopes that we might be able to raise awareness for them. Sarah certainly put the issue of rabies on the map for us and hopefully we have done so for a few others now as well,” said Tom Willis, explaining how the group made the decision to include fundraising as part of their triathlon preparation.  For more details on the group’s fundraising efforts, please see their online donation page here.

By Tom Willis, Cork Ironman participant and fundraiser and Laura Baker, GARC

Those of us at GARC would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to this team of triathletes and their sponsors, as well as all our donors, both big and small, for their generous support of our rabies control work.