Will of Iron

One week to go…


Suzie looking fresh after a training run!

You’re trained (probably), ready to go (perhaps) and all that’s left to do is prove your Will of Iron!

There’s just over a week to go before Will of Iron week starts…

Ironers, are you ready?

The last thing is to organise tracking your activity. Whether you’re in a team, doing it by yourself, or splitting the challenge by discipline or by distance, it’s your choice how you track Will of Iron. This is your challenge and we know you can do it.  Most importantly, we trust you, but we do have some helpful suggestions, too.

DisciplineXgames tracking 

I also want to tell you more about our exciting partnership with DisciplineXgames

DisciplineXgames has allowed us to use it’s technology for Will of Iron free of charge. The team are so enthusiastic about the challenge, it’s uniqueness, as well as being passionate about supporting the charity. And we can’t thank them enough (no, really, we can’t).

DisciplineXgames encourages you to change your habits and work towards your goals.

For Will of Iron, it will encourage you to complete your miles as well as integrating seamlessly with existing fitness apps.

Find out more about tracking your challenge, DX technology, and what to do once you’ve finished your challenge.

Thanks again to David, Pranav and the DisciplineXgames team for their support. Let us know what you think!

Disclaimer: If this isn’t for you, don’t worry, you can still complete Will of Iron without using Discipline X.



Faye Cox

Guest post: Faye Cox

We’re excited to announce that a whole island could be taking part in Will of Iron this year! Read more from Faye, Personal Trainer and Will of Iron champion at Shetland Recreational Trust:

Faye Cox

Faye will be proving her Will of Iron this May

When? On May 10th, at a small leisure centre on the island of Unst in the Shetland Islands, the most northerly tip of the UK something amazing is going to happen.

Myself and fellow Shetlanders will be taking on the Will Of Iron triathlon challenge in one day. That’s right; we are going to complete it in under six hours AND we are going to race each other.

Why? Because it is for a wonderful charity and Shetlanders are not ones to shy away from a challenge especially if it is going to help somebody!

I work for the Shetland Recreational Trust who runs the leisure centre I work in and their vision is to improve lives through sport and recreational activity so when I came to them with the Will Of Iron event they were more than happy to offer their support.

Who? Already over 25 people have signed up for the one day event and we will be dividing the entries fairly into small teams so we can have a fun competitive aspect on the day too.

What? To help all the entrants we have put on classes that focus on building up endurance for the events such as indoor cycling and running classes. Our pool has never been busier with islanders cutting through the water getting their lengths in and our gym is packed with some sneaky treadmill runners.

Will Of Iron has brought a real buzz to Unst and everyone is talking about it. A local business woman has offered to provide tea and home bakes on the day (which will be very welcomed!) and even the children have been asking if they can join in.

I am really excited and can’t wait to see Shetlanders prove their Will of Iron. Oh, and may the best team win!

Inspired? Sign up today… 

Add to the memories you keep

When I decided I wanted to do some volunteer work a few years ago, Willow was the first place I called. As a football fan I’d heard lots about Willow during interviews with Bob Wilson and the cause resonated strongly with me. Fast forward quite a few years and I am proud and delighted to be announced as new Special Days Director at Willow.

“Add to the memories you keep” are lyrics in one of my favourite songs (bonus points if you guess the song!). As you may know, Willow organises Special Days for seriously ill young adults and a huge part of what we do is help make lasting memories for people to keep. In times when so much of life is dominated by doctor’s appointments, medication regimes and things you want to forget, a Willow Special Day can give memories that will be treasured forever.

I started my new role on 1st May and, although I had already signed up, I thought our new triathlon event, Will of Iron, was a great way to begin – and ensure a week of memories to keep.

So here’s how it went… 

A bank holiday weekend meant a chance to get ahead. I’d been training quite hard so Saturday was a full day of rest before two days of arriving at the gym at 7am and ending up spending more time there the than the staff!

Mark, Special Days Director

I’d only managed a 10k run for Willow before Will of Iron

Tuesday morning. After completing the swim and short run, it was into the office for business as usual. We’ll arrange at least a 1,000 days this year and no two are alike. However, my job is made so much easier as I have a very committed team who work tirelessly to make sure we create wonderful Special Days. It always humbles me to read the applications we receive. Often just being given the chance to spend quality time with friends and family is really special to our applicants.

On the treadmill Tuesday night I was really grateful for the motivation of my sponsors as the distance counter seemed to be stuck or at least moving very slowly. I pushed myself hard though, leaving just 5k running and 30k on the bike. I say “just”; a few weeks ago that would have seemed like a major challenge but not now!

Wednesday was my sprint to the finish line. The girl next to me had no idea why I seemed so happy at running 5km. To cap it all, I arrived at work to phone a lovely lady confirming that we would love to organise her Special Day to share with her partner. A great memory for her to look forward to along with a memorable start to an amazing job for me.

Mark, Special Days Director and Will of Iron finisher

Swim: 2:18, Cycle: 5:35, Run 4:01.
Total: 11 Hours 54 Minutes

Team Will(ow) of Iron

In my last post I mentioned I’d signed up to take part in Will of Iron almost immediately. Since then I have lived and breathed triathlon and have been getting more and more enthusiastic by the day. Some might even say obnoxious. Fortunately I’m not the only one and Willow has five triathlon teams taking part and two people brave enough to take on the whole distance by themselves.

Introducing Team Will(ow) of Iron… 


Hannah joined Willow last month but she signed up to take part before she arrived! Hannah’s going to be running for Team Boom Boom and has successfully managed to find friends outside of Willow to join her team… I’m not sure what this says about the rest of us?!

Mark Rappitt

Mark is doing the whole Ironman distance by himself yet before signing up for Will of Iron he’d only ever managed to run 10k before and has never taken on a triathlon before… whether it’s brilliance, madness or sheer determination he is an inspiration to us all. Louise in the finance team is also doing it by herself but successfully avoided my camera.

_0004_Sarah Jane

When I first met Sarah Jane she declared she definitely wouldn’t be signing up and yet here she is excellently representing Team Blink and You’ll Miss Us.  Sarah Jane will be joined by two excellent teammates, Jenny (team runner) and Gabby (team swimmer).


I’m not entirely sure what Steve is doing here but he assures me he will be cycling for his team. Steve might have been a bit reluctant to sign up but with a little (a lot) of persuasion he decided to join Moira’s team. Moira also managed to get her sister and husband to take part, too, to tackle the swimming and the running. Together they are the Iron Lions and should probably win a prize for the best team name!


Carol will be cycling for Team Doubtfire and will be joined by me (team runner) and Simon (team swimmer). Carol has also offered to do the swimming for other teams hence fish on a bike! I’d just like to say that, as the one with the surname Doubtfire, I didn’t suggest the team name. This is probably my punishment for taking all these photos…

_0007_Liz and Claire

Liz and Claire are a team of two and doing the Special Day Makers at Willow proud. Claire has been training hard since signing up and Liz hasn’t done a thing… good luck girls!

If you’re interested in signing up as a team, you still have plenty of time to register. Team members can each pick a discipline (cycling, swimming or running) or choose all three and divide the distance between them over seven days. Anyone taking part can do as much or as little as they like and still call themselves a triathlete! Join us and sign up for Will of Iron today.

Until next time,


Guest post: Paul Botterill

There are lots of amazing people challenging themselves to take on Will of Iron to raise money for Willow, including Paul Botterill. Paul has committed to take on the whole distance by himself and has already started his training. He tells us how he’s getting on and what motivated him to do it:

“Starting on Sunday 18th May 2014, I will be undertaking my biggest challenge to date! I will be competing in Willow’s Will of Iron triathlon.

I will be required to swim 2.4 miles, cycle 112 miles, run 26.2 miles and I have to complete all the above within seven days…!

paulI decided to do this to raise awareness for Leestock and Willow, in memory of my friend Lee Dunford who was like a brother to me. We grew up together and I have so many happy memories with him. Lee unfortunately passed away in March 2006 after suffering from cancer for four years. Willow organised Lee’s Special Day, sending him and his band to a London recording studio and giving him a day to remember.

I love a challenge and I’m dedicating my all to make sure I achieve this. I’m hoping to raise £500 and already well on the way to reach my goal.

I’m actually loving training if I’m totally honest. It is difficult but I know I can’t let people down, especially as I have now raised over £200! It has given me a complete new view on life and helps with my football refereeing and fitness so it’s all a bonus.

As you can take part in the gym or outdoors, I plan to swim at the Kingfisher in Sudbury and cycle locally, as well as cycling to surrounding villages in the Sudbury area for more variety (and to complete some of the longer distances!). The running will mostly be done locally, too.

The plan is to end at the LeeStock Saturday session so I can celebrate at the festival!” 

Join Paul and sign up for Will of Iron today to help Willow make more Special Days for seriously ill young adults, like Lee.

Find out more about LeeStock musical festival in aid of Willow.

Never say never…

I only started working for Willow in February and within a week I’d already committed to taking part in Will of Iron. If you haven’t made it round the rest of the site yet, it’s basically an ironman in a week (instead of 17 hours). It means swimming 2.4 miles, cycling 112 miles and running a marathon (26.2 miles). Easy, right?!

I ran a half marathon last year and as I crossed over the finish line I told myself: “Thank the bacon sandwich that’s waiting for me, it’s over. Never again.” I’m not a naturally athletic person and at first used my half-marathon exploits as an excuse to eat macaroni cheese twice a week (and this was before I’d even started training).

Feeling sorry for myself after my first 5km training run

Feeling sorry for myself after my first 5km training run

I really admire people that enjoy exercise but sadly I am not one of them. I don’t know about you but the thought of doing an ironman distance triathlon at all is quite alarming even if I don’t have to do it all at once.

And yet here we are.

I may be a rather reluctant runner but Will of Iron is pretty exciting as it’s a challenge anyone can take on. Despite the rather intimidating distances, you can really make the event your own. Do it by yourself, do the half-distance, or get together as many team members as you can find. As long as you complete the distance within any seven consecutive days in May you’re a winner.

Mark, a colleague at Willow, is doing the full distance by himself. For the record, he is my hero. There are lots of others who have signed up who are tackling the full distance or the half-iron man distance by themselves. Other teams are doing a bit of everything. Fortunately, I’m lucky enough to have a team doing it with me and we decided to divide the challenge by discipline which means I’m only responsible for the running. Thanks to Carol, our team’s cyclist, for being convinced (by me) to do just the cycling instead of doing the challenge by herself and to Simon, our team’s swimmer, for making sure I didn’t have to factor in the horror of buying a swimming costume as part of the challenge!

I hadn’t actually been running since December until last weekend when I just about struggled my way through 5km. It was ok. I got a bit lost en route and now walking upstairs is mildly painful (my own fault for not stretching) but I’m getting there. A bit of me might even be looking forward to it.

Whether you’re as averagely* athletic as me, a serious triathlon competitor or somewhere in between, we want you to sign up to Will of Iron. Every penny you raise will help Willow create more Special Days.

We’ll be introducing the rest of our Willow teams soon but in the meantime wish me luck!


* please interpret as regular cake eater and sofa sitter

Q&A With Catherine Faux

Catherine Faux was named Triathlete of the Year 2013 and is the fastest triathlete in her age group in the world. Described as ‘the most aspiring female talent in long distance triathlon’, Catherine is the face of Will of Iron – let her be your inspiration to take part…

catherine-faux-new[1]What was your first race?

Mansfield Sprint was my first triathlon (not even an eighth of an Ironman distance!), though I’d done some running and swimming at school. The earliest races I ever remember are sports days at primary school; I won the skipping race since I seemed to have the coordination to just charge and swing the rope all at once. Though now I’m pretty sure the 6 year-old me would beat 26 year-old me!

When and why did you make the decision to move in to triathlons?
I knew of a race at Rutland Water which was near my home town and I always thought it looked pretty cool so, when I won an essay competition at university (which gave me enough to buy a cheap bike) that became my aim.

What is your favourite discipline?
It depends where I am, and when you ask me! At the moment (crazy-weather February) it’s running, because cycling is not pleasant in bad weather and much of it has to be done on an indoor bike at this time of year. I love running in the summer too, but the cycling gets much better and you can go on beautiful evening rides that end at a good pub out in the Peak District.

In Hawaii (where the Ironman World Championships are held) it’s so hot that cycling and running are just a big sweat-fest, so being in the water becomes the best. Plus the marine life is incredible to watch whilst you swim above it – and there’s a floating coffee boat in the ocean days before the race. The cycle and run courses used for the race are just roads through lots of sparse lava rock so those elements are comparatively less fun, however during the race itself, the swim is least enjoyable and the last few miles of the run are incredible!

What do you like about triathlons, as opposed to other endurance sports?
Triathlon requires both brains and brawn, and if you are smart you can potentially beat quicker, fitter but less well-prepared competitors. I love the disciplines, I love the people you meet and the sights you see that you’d certainly miss otherwise, even around my local area. I love the buzz of a good training session and seeing how good the human body is. It’s really quite impressive what it can do. I love triathlon because you don’t have to be the very best at any one part of it – it favours all-rounders.

How often to do you train?
Usually twice a day – with a rest day once a week.

What has been your career highlight so far?
It has to be the 2013 Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii in October. I came 10th overall and broke the amateur record by 17 minutes. No one was really expecting that, least of all me!

What has been your biggest challenge?
Passing my last set of medical exams. When I’m spending so much time training it doesn’t leave any time or energy for studying, and I tend to be very focussed on one thing at once. Needless to say having been focussed on Kona this year I had a whole lot of cramming to do!

What’s your next big goal?
Passing the next set of exams! But in terms of triathlon I’ll be taking some time out as I complete my first couple of years as a doctor, so I want to make this season a memorable one.

What are your tips for any would be triathletes wanting to get started? How should they approach the training?
Get something in the calendar – it’s motivating and exciting to have an event to look forward to – whether it’s a challenge like Will of Iron, or a race, or just a personal goal. Make plans for training – it’s good to have purpose and focus, and to keep a record so you can see how far you’ve come. But don’t be afraid to miss or swap sessions if your body needs a break, if other commitments make it impossible, or the weather forecast was wrong and it seems criminal to miss a beautiful day outside if you had planned a swim.

What do you do in your spare time?
I love training, so that is something that I’m happy to spend a lot of my ‘free time’ on. I spend a lot of the remainder cooking and baking, and drinking inadvisable amounts of coffee, church, hanging out with friends… the usual.