A man who broke every metatarsal in his foot just four years ago is to take on a gruelling Ironman triathlon in Mallorca on Saturday.
Rhys Jones, who was told he would probably never run again after suffering the injury falling off a wall, has defied doctors’ expectations and will this weekend look to complete an Ironman 70.3 – a 1.9km swim, a 90km bike ride and a 21.1 km run.
Now living and working in Altrincham as founder of recruitment investment business Davidson Gray, the 46-year-old said he was “actually really looking forward to” Saturday’s event having endured six hard months of training.
But it’s a miracle he is able to start the event at all having suffered an injury that would have put paid to most other amateur sporting careers.
“I had never broken a bone in my life,” Rhys explained, “but I fell off a wall while walking my dog in Ashley and dislocated every metatarsal in my foot. They call it a lisfranc injury because you only used to see it in Napoleonic Wars – you’d get it if you fell off a horse but your foot stayed in the stirrup and were dragged along.
“They put in in a cast for six weeks and then an inflatable boot for six weeks, but the surgeon said I’d have to get used to the fact that I probably won’t run again, would probably get arthritis and that walking wouldn’t be easy either.”
It took a year before he was able to even put a shoe back on – but once he could, Rhys set about disproving the surgeon’s pessimism.
“I wasn’t much of a runner before but when I couldn’t run it was something that bothered me,” he said. “So after two or three years I decided I wanted to do something. One day I was walking the dog and I was like Forrest Gump – I ran and ran, and for the first time there was no pain, so even though I had my jeans and shirt on, I just kept running.”
Before long, and with considerable support from a physio, Rhys started entering events: first Tough Mudder, then the Manchester 10K, and then a half marathon through Delamere Forest called Hellrunner.
The next step was a triathlon – but he couldn’t swim.
So Rhys enlisted with a specialist triathlon swimming coach called Hamish Shaw, based in Knutsford, and in the past year has learnt the front crawl from scratch.
Alongside that, most weekends in recent months have been spent pounding the hills around Pott Shrigley. The Mallorca triathlon is particularly notorious for its bike section, with a Category 2 climb 7km longer than the back-breaking ride up to the Cat & Fiddle near Buxton.
It’s all for a good cause – Rhys is hoping to raise £1,400 for MIND, a cause he has had personal experience of recently through a mental illness his dad suffered last year.
“Mental illness is a bit like alcoholism – it never really goes away,” he said. “I couldn’t believe what I saw on the ward where my dad was. It scared me to death.”
To support Rhys’s efforts this Saturday, visit his Just Giving page.