A brave and inspiring senior manager of a Harrow based spinal injury charity who is an ex drinker and smoker will be the oldest man to tackle the world's toughest triathlon.

Paul Parish, who is the director of fundraising and marketing at Aspire in Wood Lane, Stanmore will be attempting the infamous Arch to Arc tirathlon on September 14.

The challenge includes a 87 mile run from Marble Arch to Dover followed by swimming the English Channel solo and finally cycling the 180 miles to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

Thirteen years ago, Mr Parish, 49, of Wheathampstead weighed just over 15 stone, he was drinking to life threatening levels and was a chain smoker. He could no longer use public transport to get to meetings because his battered metabolism would overheat, and he suffered from breathlessness and pins and needles just climbing stairs.

The father-of-three said: “I guess I am testament to the fact that within us we have the chance to change. It isn’t easy, I would never say that, but it is possible. And trust me; it is far preferable to carrying on with a destructive life pattern. I would like to show people like me that there is hope and that some of the same attributes that keep them drinking and smoking can be used to aid a better life of personal achievement.”

The Arch to Arc is famously challenging, in 14 years, only 14 people have successfully completed it and Paul will be the oldest man to ever attempt the task.

Paul believes the challenge is achievable but fears swimming the English Channel more than anything, he added: “The Channel is monstrous – a quite ridiculous undertaking in its own right. It is the equivalent in effort of running 87 miles and then being asked to jog up Everest, before the cycling.”

In the lead up to his attempt Paul has completed a Double Ironman (4.8 mile swim, 224 mile cycle ride and a 52 mile run) and two triple Iron distances (7.2 mile swim, 336 mile bike ride and 78 mile run, which is continuous with no breaks).

He will be raising money for Aspire who provide practical help to people who have been paralysed by spinal cord injury, he said: “People sometimes say that what I do is inspiring, but every day that I am at work I am surrounded by staff and spinally injured people who are truly inspirational. I am privileged to be able to do what I do and it is an honour to support Aspire.”

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