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Neil Barford and Kev Hardwick . avatar
Neil Barford and Kev Hardwick .

Neil and Kev's Race Around Ireland - Ultra Marathon Cycling Event page

Race Around Ireland Ultra Marathon Cycling Event for Northamptonshire Health Charitable Fund because all the help they gave Neil many years ago.

41 %
£1,240.00
raised of £3,000 target
by 55 supporters
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  • Team members: Brian Lusk, Alistair Shed, Nik Louch, Steve Johnson, Mark Buckingham and Steve Swann
  • Event: Race Around Ireland - Ultra Marathon Cycling Event, 28 Aug 2016

Northamptonshire Health Charitable Fund

We support staff with training + equipment to help give the best care possible.

Charity Registration No. 1165702

Story

Neil Barford



Born 30/7/1964

52yrs

Northampton born and raised

After leaving school, I worked in a shoe factory before moving to Royal Mail and becoming a HGV driver, until I was medically retired in 2007 following a serious road accident.

Married 26 years with 2 children and 1 grandchild.

I have been involved in sport my whole life i.e. athletics, cross country, road running, fell running, adventure racing, triathlon and cycling.

I have run numerous marathons around 2hr 30 mins, 70 minute half marathon, 53 minutes for 10 miles, ventured into ultra-distances i.e. 6hrs 2 mins for 50 miles.

I started to do triathlons in the 80’s and 90’s then moved more into cycling. I particularly enjoyed the time trialling

I participated in the National Championships for both running and cycling and achieved 5th and 7th place in the National 24 hour time trial champs. My best distance is 456 miles.

Aug 2006

On a Spanish holiday with the family having been out and done some light training, in great shape, having a great season in triathlon and time trialling, decided to take a walk up the

road from the beach. A car came down the hill, mounted the pavement and hit me, putting me through and over a brick wall into a storm ditch

I landed on my head and at first thought that I had broken my neck, but felt relieved after moving it from side to side. I was taken from one hospital to another. They operated on me straight away.

Eventually I was flown home. I had been so relieved that we could finally go home; I ended up in hospital in my own town – Northampton. After seeing various Consultants, they were kind of preparing me for amputation – which was devastating.

After 10 days in Northampton General, I was transferred to JR in Oxford and started a long course of operations to save my leg.

Post-accident

In 2009 I did my first 24 hour National Champs – 456 miles finished 7th was over the moon

2010 did it again, on an awful weekend weather wise, 449 miles finished 5th but won the VTTA Champs longest distance, 1st place

2011 did it again, but didn’t finish – it was a bad year after the insurance case had finished and was at a very low point.

Over the last few years the leg has settled a little. Cycling is still the key to coping. Mark’s (Buckingham) physio keeps on top of that. I see him on a regular basis. It still hurts; I have good days and bad days, probably more good at the moment.

I have a good routine with the bike and work wise I spend a lot of time in the pool which stops it swelling as much.

I have ridden to a good standard locally and nationally over the last few seasons.

So here I am now – work is great and I am enjoying it. I am cycling well; leg is ok and quite settled at the moment. Odd days are quite painful but on the whole things are good. Mark has a lot to do with that, he has taught me there is always room for improvement.

That brings me to the RAI, life is about setting your own challenges and since the accident that is what I do. I suppose that is what I do to stay focussed. I just keep setting targets which vary from RAI to everyday things like working hard with Mark to get more movement in my ankle to prevent problems later on which will inevitably occur.

Kev Hardwick

Born 30/3/1973

Age on race day 43yrs

Northampton born and raised I left school aged 16 and worked at Nationwide Anglia. In 1993 I found my vocation and became a firefighter. I have been serving my local community for the last 23 years.

In 1994 I married my long suffering and very supportive wife Heidi. We have been very happily married for just over 21 years now, and in that time Heidi has supported my endurance sport passion.

I was always sport mad and football was my passion as a kid. If I wasn’t at school I was kicking a football around somewhere or other, even in the snow I could be found with my wellies on playing “headers and volleys”.

I ran my first marathon aged 19 and a few days old, it was the London marathon and I chose to do it for charity. My first endeavours into raising money for worthy causes.

This was hard on my young body but rather than put me off endurance sports it got me hooked. I found that I loved the pain and although I’ve never been the fastest runner/rider or swimmer I found that I was able to endure the pain and discomfort far better than most. This

levelled the playing field for me because it seemed the harder or longer the event the more competitive I became.

I ran a total of 6 marathons whilst in my 20,s and moved naturally into triathlon in my 30’s. I started with a short distance (sprint event 400m swim, 20Km ride and 5km run), I did OK but it was too easy, so the next event I entered was Ironman Lanzarote in 2004, this was a massive step up in training requirements.

So for the next 6 months, 4 mornings each week I could be found in the pool, along with evenings and weekends on the bike, all of course around the ongoing marathon training. Throw in some conditioning sessions in the gym and a full time career and there’s not much time for anything else. Despite all of that I continued to love the effort required and Heidi continued to support me.

Having successfully completed ironman Lanzarote I looked for more challenges and over the coming years I competed in Austria, France and Spain competing in 7 ironman events. Remember this was at a time before the “ironman Craze” took hold and when the UK didn’t offer a single Ironman event, let alone the choice available now.

Having learnt to swim and race a push bike out of necessity for ironman, I now had new skills which led on to other challenges. I competed in a few open water swimming events which eventually led me to the ultimate challenge, a crossing of the English Channel in 2009 (as part of a relay team I hasten to add).

The Tour Du Mont Blanc - TDMB is regarded as the toughest single day ride in the world. It is, as the name suggests, a circum-navigation of the great mountain. It takes in 7 major alpine passes across France, Switzerland and Italy before returning to France again. It’s the only race I’ve ever needed a passport for! Climbing to over 2600m in altitude the ride climbs the equivalent of the Everest summit from sea level (over 8000m) in a day. When I first completed the course in 2012 I became one of less than 10 Brits that had ever achieved it. In fact the annual dropout rate during the race is around 50 %!

So what to do next? My friend Neil had suffered a hernia injury and was now in danger of losing his “mojo” so it seemed that we both needed a big challenge to get us back on track. Neil suggested the Race around Ireland. Yeah that’s a tough challenge I thought. So of course I said yes.





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