Celtman Rob to run, swim and cycle in memory of dad, Bill

Fundraising triathlete and fitness trainer Rob Quarm, competing in the UK's first every extreme Ironman "the Celtman" raising money for MacMillan.
Fundraising triathlete and fitness trainer Rob Quarm, competing in the UK's first every extreme Ironman "the Celtman" raising money for MacMillan.

FITNESS instructor Rob Quarm hopes to raise £5,000 in memory of his dad when he competes in the first Celtman extreme triathlon in the north of Scotland next month, writes Sally Gillespie.

The 31-year-old lost his father Bill to cancer in February and is swimming four kilometres in a sea loch, cycling 200km on a road bike and running 40km off road over two Munros in Torridon on June 23.

Rob told TheSouthern: “I’m quite confident – the scariest part is the nutrition, having the confidence that I’m going to have the energy to keep going. As far as my legs and having the heart to do it, that’s not an issue, it’s making sure the muscles don’t give up before the will does.”

Rob, from North Uist, is a trainer with Borders Sport and Leisure Trust and Stobo Castle and has been competing in triathlons for the last three years. Last year he completed the half ironman triathlon Highland Warrier. But next month’s Celtman is the longest and toughest triathlon he has tackled.

The fitness expert, who lives on the Torwoodlee Estate, near Galashiels with his partner Tracy Elliot and their son, Sebastian, eight, had signed up for fellow Borders resident Paul McGreal’s ironman-like race before his father became ill with colon cancer.

Rob said: “I told him before the morphine took his responses away, and he was in approval.”

His father had been unwell and losing weight but tests hadn’t shown up anything when he and Rob’s mum, Anne, visited over the new year.

Bill was diagnosed in Edinburgh and stayed at the Royal Hospital until he was able to return to North Uist by air ambulance going to the Outer Hebrides to pick someone up. It was there, thanks to help from the local doctors, nurses and Macmillan team, that he was able to return home for the last month of his life.

Rob explained his reasons for fundraising for Macmillan Cancer Support.

“It was just the reassurance they gave. They said to phone them day or night, not just in the circumstances of medical emergency, but to say how you are feeling and how you are coping. They helped my mother, taking her through the financial side of things. It’s very comforting, they give you confidence that you are doing the right thing.”

And on his Facebook page he said: “I’d like to pay back in some way, the kindness they showed us and potentially aid them towards helping another family through their difficult time, so they are able to say goodbye to a loved one with relative peace of mind and to help give those who suffer with cancer the support and comfort they need to live and die with dignity and love.”

Rob said he was met with kindness from both islanders and Borderers.

He told us: “Everybody is very supportive. I have been away from the islands since I was 18. People just came round with food all day and even money, their best wishes and support. And there was a similar response here from the people I know from my classes at the Queens Centre in Galashiels at Selkirk pool and at Stobo Castle – everybody’s been very generous and very supportive.”

Rob, who already leads more than 20 fitness classes a week, started training for the race in November but stopped during his father’s illness, restarting at the end of February. Earlier this month he completed the Selkirk triathlon (60 lengths of the town’s pool, 39km cycle ride and 10km run) – then ran up the Three Brethren.

Asked what he was looking forward to in the race, he said: “Beating the checkpoint time and the view at the top.”

To donate visit www.justgiving.com/robquarm