A man from Horsham is taking on a triathlon, including one of the toughest parts of the Tour de France route, after his boss told him to lose weight.
Brook Saunders, 39, has been on a seven month life-changing journey training for the Alpe D’Huez Triathlon on Thursday July 31.
He said: “My boss here said ‘you need to sort yourself out. You’re getting married in September. You need to lose some weight’.
“He chipped away at me. I was drinking, smoking, plus I’d grown up in a pub.
“I started in January and I lost one and half stone in a month. Now I’m two and a half stone lighter.
“Once you shed some weight, it gets easier and easier to do.
“I’m exercising twice a day. I’ve never been motivated in my life; it’s the thought of doing this triathlon.”
In choosing his challenge, he did not settle for something simple. As the name suggests, the Alpe D’Huez Triathlon takes place in the mountain heights of the French Alps.
He, is doing it with three of his colleagues and some of their clients. They will swim 1.2km in the Lac du Verney glacial lake at 700m above sea level. It is about 15 degrees in the summer and swimming there is normally prohibited.
That will be followed by a 30km cycle ride climbing the 21 bends of the Alpe D’Heuz - a common stretch of Tour de France.
Then, at 2,000m above sea level, they will finish the challenge with a 7km run.
Brook said: “It’s the altitude. I’ve done triathlons to warm up for it. The training is something else. It’s taken over my life.
“I’ve gone from a 38in to 32in waist and that’s without dieting. It’s brilliant.
“I go off to various lakes. Thorpe Park lake is good. I also stand in a cold shower. I can stand under a cold shower for 15 minutes now without shivering.”
The funds he and the team raise will be split between the Sustainability Institute and Hope HIV. Brook works for Pearl and Dean cinemas, which advertises at Horsham Arts Centre.
Horsham cinemagoers will have seen him on their screens appealing for funds for the The Sustainability Institute, for which other Pearl and Dean cinemas have fundraised.
It helps children in Africa build a life for themselves through education and community development.
Brook said: “The children have even made videos of encouragement for us.
“Once you understand their plight, what some of them have been through and what they’ve then achieved, you cannot be anything but inspired.”
Hope HIV helps children who have been orphaned after their parents died from HIV.
Brook added: “Both charities are non-profit and support communities from the groundroots and up.
“Money raised doesn’t just disappear into a hole never to be seen again. They show exactly where, what and how much good it can do.
“The people that work for them inspire and motivate me to play my small part and raise some money with this triathlon, which is why I must complete it.”
He has so far raised nearly £600 and he hopes to raise £2,000. To sponsor him go to www.justgiving.com/brooksaunders
For more information about the charities go to www.sustainabilityinstitute.net/ and hopehiv.org