A GRUELLING Lake District triathlon designed by a Cumbrian dad has raised over £50,000 for Muscular Dystrophy UK - a charity that supports people living with muscle-wasting conditions.

Sam Taylor, 44, from Crooklands, spent 18 months creating the challenge which took place between August 31 and September 2. The event spanned the distance of a typical Ironman challenge.

Named Iron Will, it was inspired by his son Will, 14, who was diagnosed in June 2014 at aged four with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD).

Will's family aims to accelerate research to find a treatment for (DMD) which is a severe genetic muscle-wasting condition where the body does not produce dystrophin - a vital protein that repairs damaged muscles. As a result, Will’s muscles are getting weaker, which impacts all aspects of his life, especially his mobility and independence.

Sam said: "This event came about, partly because of the name, Iron Will, being linked to ‘Ironman’ distance, but also because Will himself is tough, and has the resilience and strength to deal with the challenges that he has been dealt, with enthusiasm and humour."

The Westmorland Gazette: Will’s Mum & Dad; Sue and Sam Taylor at the finish line

Over 40 people took part in the Iron Will Challenge , which comprised a 2.4 mile open water swim at Capernwray Diving Centre, and then a 112 mile bike ride, and a 26.2 mile marathon, based out of Brathay Hall near Ambleside.

Each discipline of the triathlon was split into four segments, all starting and ending in the same place. This made the event accessible to individuals and teams. 

Sam and his wife Sue both completed the full event. Sam said: "I had genuine concerns, all the way through the Iron Will, that we had created something that was just too difficult. But through the teamwork and support of everyone involved, we got every participant and team to the finish line safely."

Will was also fully involved in all aspects of the planning and execution of the event, and even completed a quarter of the marathon in his off-road wheelchair. 

Sam said: "We are incredibly fortunate to have an amazing group of friends, who are willing to push themselves out of their comfort zones, and take on events that are really challenging to help us out.

"Creating the Iron Will has given us a platform to raise awareness of DMD, and of the groundbreaking research that is happening right here in the UK to find effective treatments, as well as funding this research."

The Westmorland Gazette: The Iron Will team in the water at Capernwray getting ready to swim

The Iron Will is the latest in a series of challenges that Sam and Sue have created since 2015, including a John O’Groats to Lands End bike ride, a Coast to Coast Triathlon, the Longest Steepest Highest Quadrathlon and the Duchenne Research Relay – a 380 mile bike ride in 3 days. In total they have now raised over £230,000 for the Muscular Dystrophy UK Duchenne Breakthrough Research Fund.

Sam added: "For me personally, it feels great to be ‘fighting back’ against DMD on Will’s behalf by creating these events and training to complete them. Thank you to everyone who followed the Iron Will, sent messages of support, and especially to those who donated to Muscular Dystrophy UK."