Football trio couldn’t pass up Helvellyn test

Helvellyn Triathlon. From left: Gary Hunter, Carl Stephenson, Jamie Swailes
Helvellyn Triathlon. From left: Gary Hunter, Carl Stephenson, Jamie Swailes
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A BORDERS triathlon trio have just completed one of the toughest events in the country, raising in excess of £2,000 in the process.

Carl Stephenson (5 hours 27 minutes), Jamie Swailes (5.41) and Gary Hunter (7.20) all completed the Helvellyn Triathlon, part of the TriHard group of adventure racing events.

The challenge included a one-mile swim in Ullswater, a 38-mile bike ride around the Lake District, including the Kirkstone Pass (a notoriously difficult steep climb) and a nine-mile run up Helvellyn itself (the third highest mountain in England).

All three athletes are from the Jedburgh area and keep up their fitness levels by playing football for various local clubs.

Stephenson told TheSouthern: “Nothing could have prepared us for the Helvellyn event, but it was worth doing, for the spectacular views at the top of the mountain if nothing else, and we are all really chuffed to have completed it.

“The main purpose of entering the event was to raise money for the charities and we are all delighted with the amount we have collected so far. We can’t thank people enough for their generosity.”

At the age of 32, Stephenson is the oldest of the group. He moved from Newcastle to Jedburgh in 2003 and works as a firefighter for Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service at Wallsend.

You can normally find him playing football for Jed Legion on a Saturday, although he took last season off in order to train for the triathlon.

“It paid off,” he added. “The old man showed the young uns how to go on.”

At 19, Swailes is the baby of the group and was the youngest entry in this year’s Helvellyn event.

He works as a forestry contractor with his father, Colin, and plays football for Kelso United.

He told us: “I enjoy keeping fit and am able to do this through my manual job. Lots of running and lots of football training also help.

While both the above triathletes have a shared love of Newcastle United, the third member of the team is a diehard Rangers fan.

Gary Hunter, 21, works at Plexus in Kelso and also plays football for Jed Legion.

He has lived in Jedburgh all his life.

The charities who will benefit from this most recent challenge are: The Stroke Association, Arthritis Research and Help for Heroes. The boys would also like to thank Jedwater Caravan Park, Bygone Days and Jed Legion for their kind support.