Fit duo’s nine-day challenge proves age is just a number

Oxford Mail: Phil Skipp, left, and David Woodman. Picture: OX67779 Ed Nix Buy this photo Phil Skipp, left, and David Woodman. Picture: OX67779 Ed Nix

TWO unlikely athletes are showing age is no barrier by taking on a 200-mile sporting challenge.

David Woodman, 68, and Phil Skipp, 66, are three days in to their triathlon, which will see them cycling from London to Oxford, rowing from Oxford to Walton-on-Thames in Surrey and then walking back to Oxford.

The nine-day challenge started on Wednesday and will raise money for Oxford Brookes’ Clinical Exercise and Rehabilitation (CLEAR) Unit, which helps people with serious medical conditions keep as fit and healthy as possible.

Mr Woodman, the husband of the university’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Janet Beer, said: “It’s about making the most of our mobility. As we age, and our bodies squeak in ways they didn’t in the past, there is a desire to push ourselves to see what we can achieve physically.

“I was pretty fit before anyway, so the training for this was really just keeping up my general level of fitness. I do 50-mile cycles twice a week, as well as spinning classes and gym sessions.”

Mr Skipp, who is granddad to Thomas, Joseph and Samuel, added: “I don’t think what we’re doing is that unusual. A lot of men in their 60s are still pretty fit.

“This is a pretty good way to write off the years. If you’re able to do these things, why not?“ The route the duo will be taking follows the same journey as the friends in Jerome K Jerome’s novel Three Men in a Boat, which was published 125 years ago.

The rowing leg will be completed in a traditional Thames camping skiff, a narrow wooden boat with canvas roof, on which the pair will also be sleeping during this five-day stint.

Grandad-of-three Mr Woodman said: “This isn’t the first time we’ve done something like this.

“We walked from Land’s End to John O’Groats a couple of years ago, and thought we needed another challenge.

“The CLEAR unit at Brookes does such great work in helping people overcome their mobility difficulties so we’re hoping to raise much deserved funding to help their work.”

Mr Skipp, who is senior management team driver at the university, added: “I have to fit my exercise in around work and looking after the grandchildren.

“I’ve been training for this for about six months. It’s a good motivation to keep fit.”

James Bateman, who manages the CLEAR Unit, said: “We’re really grateful to David and Phil for undertaking the challenge.

“At the CLEAR unit we strive to help keep people with disabilities and mobility difficulties moving and this funding will help us continue our very important work.”

TRIP SCHEDULE

  • Cycle from London to Oxford (60 miles) – June 11.
  • Row from Oxford to Walton-on-Thames in a traditional Thames camping skiff, a narrow wooden boat with canvas roof (80 miles) –  June 12-16.
  • Walk from Walton-on-Thames to John Henry Brookes Building, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford (60 miles) – June 17-19.
  • Donations to support Mr Woodman and and Mr Skipp, and the work of the CLEAR Unit, can be made at justgiving.com/ bbb-challenge

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