Two amigos’ South American CRYathlon challenge in aid of heart charity

Two recent Swansea University graduates are preparing to undertake a gruelling three-month South American triathlon charity challenge starting on Wednesday, April 2, in aid of heart charity Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY).

CRYathlon challengeSteven Jones, aged 23, from Carmarthen, will embark on the ‘CRYathlon’ challenge with support on the cycling leg from fellow alumnus Tim Butt, also aged 23, from Essex, who suffered a near-fatal cardiac arrest in May last year.

The CRYathlon is made up of a coast to coast 1,000 mile cycle from Buenos Aires to Santiago, across the Pampas lowlands; a three peak hiking challenge over the Andes Mountain range; and a canoeing challenge covering over 1,000 miles of the Amazon River, from Iguitos in Peru to Manaus, the capital of the Amazonas. 

Tim Butt, who graduated from Swansea University in 2010 with a BSc in Geography before completing his MSc in Environmental Dynamics and Climate Change in 2012, said: “The South America Challenge marks the start of a series of challenge-based fundraising under the banner CRYathlon, through which we aim to raise a target of £15,000 to fund heart screening and medical research through CRY."

CRY is a charity which was founded in 1995 to raise awareness of conditions that  can lead to young sudden cardiac death (YSCD), sudden death syndrome (SDS), and Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome (SADS).

In May last year, Tim suffered a sudden cardiac arrest at his home and was diagnosed with a rare heart disorder called Long QT Syndrome. He was fitted with a pacemaker and implantable cardiac defibrillator (ICD) and has since become a patron for CRY.

Speaking about his near fatal incident, Tim, a former Elite British triathlete and cyclist, said: “I was sitting at home, having just returned from Portugal where I had been cycle training and coaching all year.  Luckily my mother, Sue, was in the next room when it happened and immediately called 999 as she witnessed me having what she describes as a ‘fit’, as I clutched my chest.

“I woke up two days later in the Critical Care Unit at Basildon Hospital and I had no idea what had happened to me. But since the Long QT Syndrome diagnosis was made, I have wanted to support the charity CRY, which I can say first-hand is vitally important and can save lives.

“I am extremely lucky to be here given what I have been through; I am one of the few lucky ones, which really gives me the position to do something about it.”

Team member Steven Jones, who graduated from Swansea University in 2011 with a BA in Media and Communications and in 2012 with a MA in Digital Media, has recently been working as Communications Co-ordinator for the Swansea University based Technocamps project.

Steven, who is also Club President of Swansea Trotters, the Alumni Club for Athletics, Cross Country and Triathlon at Swansea University, said: “I wanted to turn plans to travel into something unique and worthwhile, having been inspired by Mark Beaumont, who hiked and cycled the Americas, and the Mississippi Challenge – a group of three that I personally know, who kayaked the Mississippi.

“I quickly decided on a loose idea to take on the natural environment of South America through a cycling, hiking and canoe challenge. I knew this would be something that would strike a note with Tim and his fundraising efforts with CRY, so I pitched the basic idea to him and since then we have been focused on mapping out our plan and route, securing sponsorship, and getting our fitness levels up in time for April.”

So far, the duo have been fortunate to receive the support of a number of friends and family and to have secured financial support from Roboform UK, product support from Block Head Energy Gum, and promotional support from We Create Digital.

They will hold a launch event for their CRYathlon fundraising initiative at Christ Church Hall in Billericay, Essex on Saturday, March 29, before flying out to South America on Wednesday, April 2 to begin their challenge.

“Our cause is a very personal and worthy one and we very much hope that University students, staff and the wider Swansea community will support our challenge,” added Steven.

“Any donations, however small, will be greatly appreciated and can be made at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/showFundraiserPage.action?userUrl=CRYathlon&pageUrl=3&isTeam=true.

For more information and updates on the duo’s Cryathlon challenge visit www.cryathlon.com; follow the team on Twitter @cryathlon and on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/cryathlon; or contact them at cryathlon@gmail.com.

For more information on Swansea University’s Alumni Association visit http://www.swansea.ac.uk/alumni/.