The Triathalon Team
Education, sport, adventure, and the protection of others have been the driving forces throughout Simon’s life. Whether it was summiting big peaks in the Alps and Rockies or competing in the 09 – 10 Clipper Round The World Yacht Race, it was in these challenging environments that he felt the most fulfilled. These driving forces and his love of extreme challenges became the nucleus for his concept for Team Status Code 14.
Like most of those serving in the Emergency Services, Simon has been exposed to multiple traumatic incidents during his career as a Police Officer, sustaining both mental and physical trauma, including being stabbed on duty.
Although seemingly unaffected by this, he has seen first-hand the profound effect these incidents have had on his friends and colleagues. On a number of occasions, he has been on the end of the telephone feeling utterly helpless with friends literally on the precipice of despair suffering from PTSD.
That same feeling of helplessness, however, also caused him to seek medical advice after he noticed a lump on one of his testicles, whilst showering after a training session. Like most men, he ‘buried his head in the sand,’ ignored it, and did nothing about it. This built into fear and anxiety. Prompted by his wife, he eventually visited his GP and it was quickly established that there was no need for concern. But why leave it to luck why take a chance, why feel helpless?
Through Statuscode14, Simon wants to raise awareness of PTSD within the ‘Bluelight’ Emergency Services, raise awareness of treatable Men’s Cancers and most importantly raise money for the 2 charities working to treat PTSD (Rock2Recovery) and Men’s Cancers (The Chestnut Appeal).
Dean has always enjoyed, and sometimes endured a challenge. Both physical – through open water swimming, partaking in an extreme triathlon and arduous military training, and mental – through education and personal development.
Caring for the critically ill and injured as a military medic and nurse gave him insight and experience of the long-term effects of dealing with traumatic incidents. The effects of PTSD are often primarily associated with military service, but the effect on our emergency services of dealing with traumatic events whilst protecting our communities is often overlooked. By actively supporting Status Code 14, Dean hopes to raise awareness and funds for this important cause.
His family, friends and colleagues have been affected by men’s cancers, and over the last couple of years Dean has participated in and supported open water swimming events for The Chestnut Appeal. Dean is partaking in the London to Paris triathlon relay, not just because Simon told him to, but to raise awareness and funds for PTSD within the emergency services, and for treatable men’s cancers.
As an ex RN medic and radiographer, Ash has seen first hand the effects of PTSD on both the injured and the medical personnel who work tirelessly on casualties. With both the military and the NHS pivotal in his family life, in the service of others is an ethos he shares with Status Code 14.
Noting this unwritten message and its more explicit mission, it was an easy decision for Ash to support SC14 in its endeavours. A strong team player, it was the fact that this was going to be conducted with a group of his friends sold this crazy concept to him.
Combining a new found love of open water swimming, and a life long thirst for sport and challenge, taking on this Uber triathlon was something that he was excited to undertake.
A father of two boys, and with a supportive wife, Ash is excited to take on this challenge to support the recovery of others.
Aaron is a serving Officer of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines and the youngest member of the SC14 Channel relay challenge team. Humble yet dynamic, Aaron always seeks to inject humour in times of adversity, which will hopefully prove useful midway across the English Channel.
An ambassador for mental health awareness, Aaron has experienced the impact of PTSD first hand, personally and amongst work colleagues, both military and civilian. As such he is fiercely proud to be part of this year’s challenge, raising awareness and support for PTSD and offering his narrative to anyone who will listen.
A keen sportsperson, no challenge is too tough, too ambitious or too outlandish, especially when supported by his wife Rebecca and their disobedient cocker spaniel. SC14 combines the best of Aaron’s interests whilst simultaneously bringing out the best of his abilities and personality.
28th August – 5th September 2021
London to Paris Triathlon 2021
On 15th September 2020, Aaron, Ash, Dean and I successfully completed a 4 person relay swim of the English Channel, in a time of 15.5 hours. It was a truly awesome experience, but completed pretty much ‘on the back of a fag packet’!
This year, with a channel pilot already booked, we wanted to challenge ourselves further – and at the same time, be bit more organised! We therefore looked to add an extra element to the Channel Swim and after much soul searching and ideas bounced around by the team, I came across the London to Paris 4 person Relay Triathlon, Marble Arch to the Arc de Triomphe.
It all seemed pretty straight forward. Run 78 miles from London to Dover, swim 21 miles across the English Channel and then cycle 181 miles from Calais to Paris. Each of us would run, swim or cycle for an hour and then swap over. So finally with a plan, our preparations and training started in earnest. We knew we could swim, but none of us had run for any great time or distance and only Dean had a road bike!
And then of course, as with the rest of the world, Covid was a huge factor.
For 10 months between working in our different jobs, sometimes away from home and juggling family life, we trained and we trained hard… I literally had to learn how to ride a road bike with clip-ins! But as the date got closer, we were faced with potential restrictions on travel to France, which put the whole Triathlon in jeopardy. We therefore came up with a number of contingencies and settled on a Covid version of the original.
We would swim the English Channel, cycle a circular route from Dover and then run from Dover to London.
The swim window we had on the Pilot boat Masterpiece was from 28th August – 5th September. In the month leading up this, all was set. Unlike last year, the training had gone well and we had even trained a lot together. The logistics were all in place and we were ‘good to go.’
But on the 27th August, I had a conversation with the Pilot who said there had been no swimming for the last 2 weeks in The English Channel, due to the unseasonably high winds and it looked unlikely that we would get to swim within our window!
So it was back to the drawing board and decisions had to be made. Were we going to wait throughout our whole window and see if could we swim? Were we going to crack on with a contingency plan? and if a contingency, what was that going to be? or were we just going to ‘sack it’?
Following a number of conversations with the Pilot and looking at the long term forecast, we made the decision that it was better to do something, rather than waiting for the end of the swim window and have not done anything. We decided to ‘roll the dice’ and came up with the London to Paris Triathlon version 2.0.
The plan was to Run from Marble Arch in London to Salisbury, Cycle from Salisbury to Plymouth and then swim the distance of the English Channel in Plymouth Sound. So, on Wednesday 1st September we travelled up to Central London, where we were hosted by White Watch at Paddington Fire Station. And with a short walk to Marble Arch, at 1600 hours Dean started the journey back to Plymouth.
It’s difficult to put into words the high and lows of the Run, Cycle and Swim. Needless to say it was hard. As with all endurance events, the lack of sleep added to the physicality, but 48 hours after Dean started, I finished our last swim in Plymouth Sound.
In my job, contingency planning is our ‘bread and butter’ and we are always looking for contingencies. When working with the elements, there is always the potential that conditions are just not suitable to complete the challenge. And for the London to Paris Triathlon this (and Covid 19) proved to be the case. But I think the alternative was pretty good. In fact I would go on to say, it was probably harder than doing the original.
I would like to thank our specific sponsors for this challenge and a huge thank you to our support crew of Steve and Brad.
Along the way, we met some fantastic people and we were able raise awareness of PTSD in the Emergency Services and Men’s Cancers. So, job done.
Now we move our attention to the next Challenge…The Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge.