Charity bid to complete 289-mile challenge

Keith Laing gets in some training for his gruelling challenge from London to Paris. Picture: Ian Georgeson

Keith Laing gets in some training for his gruelling challenge from London to Paris. Picture: Ian Georgeson

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IT is a gruelling physical challenge so tough that more people have walked on the surface of the moon than successfully completed it.

Now one Gorebridge man is hoping to add his name to that slim list by taking on the 289-mile Arch to Arc endurance challenge.

Keith Laing, 47, will have to run 87 miles from London’s Marble Arch to Dover, before swimming 22 miles across the English Channel to Calais. Once he reaches the other side he will saddle up for a 180-mile cycle from Calais to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

Only 11 athletes have ever completed the ultra-distance triathlon – the current record being held by Enduroman’s Mark Bayliss is 73 hours and 39 minutes. Twelve men have walked on the moon.

Dad-of-one Keith, backed up by family, friends and colleagues, plans to set off on his elite challenge on July 27 and hopes to reach Paris in a lung-bursting 85 hours.

He said: “My aim is to simply survive. It’s going to be very tough anyway but I hadn’t really considered the type of temperatures we’ve been getting lately. I’m not praying for rain or anything but hopefully it will have cooled down by then.”

Keith has been in serious training for months ahead of the challenge, completing eight-hour swims in the sea off Gullane and six hour runs around Midlothian.

He said: “The training is long. I’ve done the swimming distance in the pool and have trained swimming in the sea as well. When it comes to the race I will be looking at running 20 hours consistently, so I am pushing myself in training as much as I can.”

A former karate enthusiast, Keith advanced to endurance challenges from half-marathons and marathons, and finally graduated to Iron Man triathlons in 2010.

Keith is undertaking this latest challenge to raise funds for Guide Dogs Scotland.

He said: “This is all in memory of my dad, Eddie. Guide Dogs is a cause that is very close to my heart. My dad had four and I saw the difference having guide dogs made to his life, so if I can contribute to others having the same life-changing opportunity then I am delighted.”

The shift production manager at Macfarlan Smith has been backed by his bosses and colleagues, who have helped raise the £6000 needed to support his endeavours, with £2500 alone needed for his support boat during the Channel swim.

David Black, community fundraiser with Guide Dogs Scotland, said: “It costs nearly £50,000 to support a guide dog from birth to retirement, and the service receives no government funding, so the challenge Keith is undertaking will help provide life-changing opportunities to blind and partially sighted people. We’re hugely grateful and wish Keith the best of luck.”

You can support Keith on his Just Giving page, www.justgiving.com/Keith-Laing1

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