Most people find marathon running hard enough as it is, but on Saturday one Gade Valley Harrier took on a mammoth swimming and bike challenge as a precursor to tackling the 26.2-mile marathon distance.
Dean Kidd was taking part in the Italy Ironman triathlon in Cervia, Italy, after eight months of pushing his boundaries to the maximum in training across the range of disciplines.
Kidd joined nearly 3,000 others as they swam 3.8km (2.4 miles) in the Adriatic Sea off the country’s east coast on a hot morning and in poor sea conditions.
He completed the swim in 1:17:47, despite only getting an hour’s sleep the night before due to race nerves, and then geared up for the 180km (112 miles) cycle leg, which had a technical start from a promenade going out of town.
It took riders through some stunning Italian countryside on closed roads and the participants braced themselves for a steep climb near picturesque vineyards, before descending back to Cervia.
Kidd buckled down and completed the two-lap course in 5:36:41.
He then wrapped up the day by enjoying sea-views on a flat, four-lap run around the tourist area and medieval town, shrugging off some stomach pains as the heat reached its zenith.
As he reached the red-carpet finish, Kidd was greeted by cheering crowds and the words “Dean, you are an Ironman”, which ensured he had the satisfaction and relief of achieving one of the toughest mass-participant endurance events in the world.
He completed the run in 4:48:05 to give him an overall time of 11:55:51, including transitions.
Meanwhile, Harrier Darren Burke was taking part in his first ultra-marathon at the Tring 50k, where he was joined by club-mate and seasoned ultra-runner Anita Berwick.
The duo attacked the hilly trails around Wendover, Berkhamsted and the Ashridge estate on a day when the UK basked in unseasonably hot temperatures to make it an even more difficult challenge for the runners.
But the clear blue skies allowed for some stunning views across the Chilterns and Burke completed the course in 7:11:13, ahead of Berwick in 8:07:44.
Andy Terry swapped his running shoes for Lycra as he embarked on the London to Brighton off-road cycle sportive.
After more than 3,000 feet of elevation and almost 68 miles in the saddle, Terry reached the south coast in about six hours and 52 minutes.
Dave Goodman completed his 50th 26.2-mile race at the Oslo Marathon on Saturday, which comprised two challenging laps of the Norwegian capital. He clocked 3:53:25, before heading back to Hertfordshire to take part in the Welwyn Half Marathon on Sunday.
He completed that event in 1:53:36, where he was joined in Welwyn by Simon Wallis (1:29:04), who finished as the second male vet 40+ (MV40), Tracey Cotton (1:46:57) and Clare Cavenagh-Mainwaring (2:11:53).
Also on Sunday, the Goodwood Running Grand Prix gave runners a choice of distances, dependant on how many laps of the Sussex motorracing circuit they wished to complete.
Andy Cook enjoyed a highly-acclaimed “negative split” by completing the second-half of his marathon quicker than the first, picking up the MV50 award and passing the chequered flag in 3:22:10.
Nicholas Crowther (3:29:39) also competed at the event and was the third MV40, while Phil Mercer picked up his second personal best (PB) of the week after completing 12.5 laps around the Stevenage athletics track on Wednesday night in the Ridlins 5000m in 19:37, where he was joined by Rich Coles (16:47, PB) who finished in second place, and Chris Dowling (17:53, PB).
He kept his marathon training on track by finishing Goodwood’s 20-mile race as the third MV40 in 2:29:42, ahead of Ross Deacon (2:38:39), Gareth Tucker (2:57:53) and Helen Heathcote (3:51:54).
Helen Cook was the first FV50 to complete the half-marathon at Goodwood, crossing the line in 1:59:28.
Closer to home, Teresa Reason (1:16:51) and Susie Ivin (1:34:05) took part in the Leighton 10, a 10-mile race around the countryside near Leighton Buzzard.