Ryan Weston-Bennett and Sam Whitaker are both proud Yorkshiremen – so where better to undertake a fundraising challenge together than across the luscious landscape of the Dales? The duo are going to walk the Three Peaks – Whernside, Ingleborough and Pen-Y-Ghent – not once. Not Twice. But three times as they look to set a record of less than 24 hours to finish!
Ryan, an Ironman triathlete, and Sam, a cyclist and fitness fanatic, completed the double in just over 13 hours last summer. The total distance of the triple will be 73.5 miles and they’ll be documenting their progress on Instagram. They have chosen to raise funds for SportsAid to help young talented athletes as they get set to take on the Triple Yorkshire Three Peaks in a fortnight’s time.
Here, Ryan looks ahead to the challenge, reveals how him and Sam became friends, and reveals the reasons behind fundraising for SportsAid....
What does the Triple Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge entail?
“The challenge is a well-known Yorkshire walk that is set out in the Dales. It is around 24 miles in length and ascends three of the highest peaks in the area. Our triple challenge will see us complete 73.5 miles with 4755m of ascent - the same as climbing Mont Blanc which is the highest peak in the French Alps. We currently hold the record for completing it twice in a little over 13 hours. No one currently holds the record for the triple although on the website it does look like there has been an attempt recently. We are hoping to complete this challenge unsupported over a period of less than 24 hours with no breaks.”
You are currently the double record holders - when did you set this?
“We set the record last year and found it very hard. We said ‘that’s it, never again’ afterwards but a week later decided we were going to attempt the triple next year. The second time round last year was hard but not impossible.”
How much of a physical and mental test will this challenge be for you?
“We are both physically fit. Sam is always training and loves long walks where as I am an Ironman triathlete so am quite fit myself. This year my training has slipped a little as I’ve started a new job in Germany and the beer there tastes far too good!”
Have you undertaken many other challenges in the past other than the Three Peaks?
“I’ve completed a 50 mile run on a treadmill for Cancer Research which took over nine hours and that was pretty awful. Then Ironman UK which I loved and have been competing in ever since. Sam loves riding his bike and is always out on his own completing huge rides.”
What is the story behind yours and Sam's relationship and your appetite for this particular challenge?
“We are both proud Yorkshiremen and the Peaks are probably the most beautiful part of the glorious county. We met through mutual interests. Sam used to provide nutrition plans and I needed one during my training for my first Ironman and since then it’s been challenge after challenge. Sam told me about the Yorkshire Three Peaks and I just had to do it. Our first time round together felt incredible at the finish - I couldn’t believe how hard going for a walk could be. My favourite part was the descents as it’s a huge adrenaline rush running down hills as fast as your legs can carry you.”
Are there certain sports which you and Sam are passionate about? And do you participate in any?
“We both love to cycle and I’ve been trying to get Sam to start racing triathlon but he’s not much of a runner so not too keen on the idea. I have a small family so don’t get out as much as Sam – I’m a little bit envious of his times out on the bike! We go out together when we can for a swift bike session.”
What made you decide to fundraise for SportsAid?
“I love to give opportunities to the young. Anything that keeps them off the streets and brings meaning to their lives. Too many young talented athletes are wasted. We have so much talent in this country that is never discovered or don’t have the opportunity to compete. I come from a poor background and only found sport in my twenties after years of smoking and drinking. If I’d had the opportunity to compete or had been pushed in the right direction who would have known what I may have become.”