Mike on his mettle for Ironman event

Mike Houston in training for the Ironman event.
Mike Houston in training for the Ironman event.

AN intrepid former Cupar man who has already run five major world marathons is to take on his toughest challenge yet in aid of a charity to which he owes a debt of gratitude.

Mike Houston (33) is to compete in what is widely regarded as the country’s most gruelling one-day endurance test - the Ironman.

Despite being a relative novice in swimming and cycling, he’s taking on the 140.6 mile triathlon event in Bolton on July 22 and will have to swim 2.4 miles in a lake and cycle for 112 miles over hilly terrain before running a marathon.

To add to the pressure, he has to do it all in 17 hours!

Mike, a former pupil of Bell Baxter High School, is raising money by way of saying a big ‘thank you’ to St John Ambulance, who came to his rescue during his first marathon attempt in London in 2009, when he collapsed with heat exhaustion after 17 miles in unusually high temperatures.

He was unconscious for 15 minutes and had to be given oxygen before being taken to hospital.

However, the experience didn’t put him off marathon running and he went on to complete the Berlin, Chicago, New York and Boston events, raising money for CHAS in Kinross.

Mike, an accomplished golfer, told the Fife Herald: “I was the under-eight Cupar and District swimming club champion - but that was in 1987, when I was seven! I gave it up after that and took up golf!

“Last October, I could not swim a 100m front crawl without gasping for air, and the swim in the Ironman event is the equivalent of 152 lengths in a 25m pool. Nothing like a challenge!”

Mike has been putting in up to 17 hours’ training every week, sometimes getting up at 4am to train before work so that he can be home in time for his four-month-old baby daughter Lucy’s bathtime.

It’s a demanding schedule that he says wouldn’t be possible without the support of his wife Samantha.

Mike added: “I have decided to raise funds for St John Ambulance as they came to my rescue three years ago and I think my thank you to them is long overdue.”

Anyone who would like to support Mike can do so at www.justgiving/mikehoustonismad. All donations will go straight to the charity as he will be paying all his own expenses.