Chapel grandfather completes epic Wash endurance challenge

Toni (centre) and his friends and support team.

Toni (centre) and his friends and support team.

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A GRANDFATHER who overcame extreme adversity to finish an epic endurance challenge, never attempted before, has raised charity funds and set an impressive legacy for his grandson.

Chapel St Leonards man Toni Schofield fended off painful injuries and extreme conditions to become the first person ever to complete a ‘quadrathon’.

The four discipline event started with a 13 mile kayak across the Wash, followed by a mile-long swim off the Skegness coast and a 20 mile bike ride before finally finishing with a five mile beach run.

“I did it for my grandson,” he said.

“I wanted to do something for him to remember me by so that when he grows up he will be able to say my granddad was the first to do that,”

“He was the one who spurred me on, he came over and gave me a big hug and that gave me the boost I needed to keep me going.”

Toni was greeted with a rapturous welcome when he crossed the finishing line in Chapel St Leonards, having completed the event in 6hrs 21mins - more than two hours faster than his target time.

Such an enormous achievement would have been impressive even for a man in perfect physical condition, however Toni was battling with broken bones, hairline fractures and torn ligaments during his challenge.

While training in his kayak just days before the event, he capsized, passed out and nearly drowned before his son Dan came to the rescue.

Though lucky to survive his brush with death, Toni broke a toe and chipped two bones in his right hand during the accident.

Many a noble contender would have thrown in the towel at that point but the heroic 48-year-old refused to let his supporters down and braved searing pain to set off across the Wash from Hunstanton last Saturday.

Even then more obstacles threatened to get in the way, as tidal conditions and massive waves proved impossible to contend with in his small five foot kayak.

Reluctantly he turned home determined to set out the following morning and ,after a restless night’s sleep, he eventually found himself with suitable conditions to attempt the challenge.

Although the tides were more favourable it was still far from plain sailing.

The blazing mid-summer sun left him with sun stroke, returning to dry land made him feel giddy, a lack of water dehydrated him and on several occasions he stumbled under the physical strain of his endeavour.

However, with help from his dedicated team of assistants he was eventually able to complete the challenge.

These included Carl Straw, a fisherman who sailed beside him during his kayak leg, and Fred Bower who followed him on his bike route - as well as other friends and family who supported him throughout his training,

“I would like to thank everyone who was so supportive of me, this was as much a success for them as it was for me,” Toni said.

Millers Leisure in Chapel St Leonards put on a welcome party after his return to the village and he has continued to receive adulation from local people.

Money has been pouring in for his chosen charity - National Hereditary Breast Cancer Helpline

Toni is already plotting his next daunting challenge and will be taking part in an Iron Man Challenge in Texas where he will run two miles, cycle 118 miles and then run a full marathon.

l If you would like to sponsor Toni call him on 07867 840187 or visit Millers Leisure.