Members of Arun Community Church have passed the ultimate endurance test and helped vulnerable children in Rwanda.
Austin Wade and wife Michelle, Steve Case, Stew Smith and Richard Knowles, known as Cookie, took part in the Muskathlon and raised £32,500 for the Child Survival Programme.
Richard, 53, and Austin, 45, ran the full marathon, Michelle, 53, ran the half marathon, and Steve, 34, and Stew, 50, completed the 120km mountain bike ride.
Organised by 4M, a worldwide movement of men, it is a week-long project, starting with three or four days of working in the community and ending with the Muskathlon.
Stew, who has been involved in triathlons at a high level for 20 years, organises the event for the UK and looked after 22 participants for the Rwanda trip.
He said: “For me, it is about rebalancing. Sport can be so selfish so this is an opportunity to do something that gives something back and feel that you are making a difference.
“4M likes to challenge people. We try to push people beyond what they would normally do. We want people to align this with the struggle people are going through every day. Nothing will come close to the experience of the Muskathlon, where you are suffering in the heat and altitude.”
The movement’s values are built on faith, brotherhood, adventure and justice.
Steve said: “The idea is there is an army of men running through these places, showing that we care, we are praying for them and thinking of them in our own communities.
“I like superheroes and this was my opportunity to be a superhero and give hope to people.”
Austin said: “For me, the altitude was the biggest challenge. It made me lungs feel half the size.
“It was an opportunity to do something big. The big thing was putting yourself through some kind of challenge and the opportunity to somehow identify with the people you are there to support. That was a big attraction.”
For Michelle, it was the opportunity to do something she never thought should would be able to achieve that spurred her on.
Richard said: “It was really difficult to begin with until you got used to it. My legs tired a lot, more quickly than they would normally.”
During the week, a sports day is organised, where the visitors meet the children they sponsor.
Richard sponsors three children and said meeting them was really important to him.
“They do share quite a lot and they do have a strong sense of community,” he said.
Steve added: “Having written to the children, you are then able to meet their parents and find out what life is like for those children.”
The next Muskathlon will be in Kenya next June. For more information, visit 4MUK.com