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Inspirational. Amazing. Epic. Just a few of the words used to describe the phenomenal achievement of a group of friends from Freshwater who conquered the Ultra 40 Challenge.Ultra 40 Challenge Team

The unique feat they set themselves was to complete a 4km open water swim from Alum Bay to Colwell Bay, a 140km bike ride around the Island, a 40km row from Alum Bay to Bembridge Harbour and then 40km run back to West Wight Sports & Community Centre. All within 40 hours.

Accidents and injuries were not going to stop them and they were all back over the finish line in just over 36 hours.

The team consisted of Julie Dixon and Martin Scotcher who wanted to mark their birthdays with a milestone challenge. They agreed it would also be a fantastic way to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the West Wight Sports & Community Centre and raise funds for the charity.

They were joined by Pete Dixon and Sam Grist, who both also took part in all four disciplines. Unfortunately an accident at the 70km mark, which resulted in a shoulder injury and damaged bike, meant Sam had to pull out of that section. It later turned out he had badly torn his pectoral muscle, however he wasn’t going to let that stop him from completing the rest of the challenge. Early the following morning he joined the rest of the gig crew for the row to Bembridge.

“I was devastated that I couldn’t complete the bike ride. But there was no way I was going to let the team down and pull out of the row” says Sam. “The thing that has struck me the most about all of this is the community spirit. So many people have come out to support us in different ways.”

The feelings are echoed by Julie Dixon “The support we have been shown by our friends and the community has been instrumental in helping us all get through the two days. I am also immensely proud of the individual achievements of our team. They have all come so far, physically and mentally to be able to do this.”

Team member Shaun Overton had originally only intended to support the crew with the swim section, having undertaken the Solent Swim and Needles Swim previously. However spurred on by his friends, Shaun also completed the bike and the run – despite only taking up running at the beginning of this year. In a similar story, Martin had never run further than 5k before he started training for the challenge.

WWSCC manager Clare Griffin, joined the team for the swim and row, and sections of the bike and run routes. However, along with Julie and Pete, Clare had never rowed before, and has spent the last few months training hard with the Yarmouth Gig Rowing Club. The club provided the boat, as well as 2 crew members for the 5 hour trip through the Solent. Even though it was a busy holiday weekend, the staff at Bembridge Harbour ensured the crew had a warm welcome and provided facilities to let them rest and recoup before the marathon run back to Freshwater.

Pete was first out of the water for the swim, overcoming his fear of swimming out of his depth in open water. While Julie had never been sea swimming before coming up with idea for challenge.

Team spirit was out in force for the run section of the event. Members of the West Wight Community Running Group and Isle of Wight Road Runners, joined the team at various stages of the route.

Back up support for the event was led by Chris Hayles who shadowed the crew over the two days, in a kayak, his car and on foot and was an amazing morale booster for everyone involved. Mike Rayden provided support on the water with his boat Mellow Yellow. While the team from Smart Health were also on hand to offer much needed sports massages in between each stage of the challenge.

“It has been an incredibly emotional two days. To see some of the team push themselves to the limit of physical endurance has proved that if you put your mind to it, you can do anything you want” says Clare. “The event has also shown what an incredibly supportive community we are lucky to be part of. Across the Island from our base in West Wight as far as Bembridge and Seaview people have made an effort to support us. I hope that people can look at what we’ve done over those two days and be inspired to achieve their own challenges.”

The Ultra 40 Challenge Team consisted of Julie Dixon, Martin Scotcher, Pete Dixon, Sam Grist, Shaun Overton, Clare Griffin. John Gardner and Johnny Brockhouse took part in the swim and bike sections. Jo Brockhouse and Mark Giddens completed the bike section. Sarah Remnant completed the run section.

Videos and photos of the event can be found on the West Wight Sports & Community Centre Facebook page. The Ultra 40 Challenge looks set to raise around £3,000 for the Trust and you can still make a donation either at the Centre or online at


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