It's always good to test one's mettle – that way you know what works for you, what doesn't and what changes need to be made before you embark on whatever test, trial or trip it is you're working towards. In preparation for the well-known Ironman UK triathlon next month, a group of injured servicemen are readying themselves for the Cotswold 113 Triathlon, using the event as a sort of warm-up race to gauge how far they've come in their preparations.
The funny thing is that this race, which is classed as a middle distance triathlon, is in itself a strenuous challenge. You have to then admire these athletes, collectively known as Team True Spirit, for their character and commitment to the "bigger test" in their undertaking of the Cotswold challenge. If you're going to push yourself, then this is the kind of event to do it at.
Set in a picturesque part of south-western England, participants will have to push themselves to the limit and successfully complete a two-lap 1.9-kilometre swim in the centre of the Ashton Keynes Water Park, a two-lap 56-mile bike ride amidst a backdrop of splendidly quaint English villages, before completing the race with a pounding 13-mile run.
Cadogan Tate, an international leader in storing, moving and shipping fine art, is backing the soldiers every step of the way in their endeavours. As Team True Spirit's Official Logistics Partner, Cadogan Tate is responsible for ensuring that the equipment and materials that the injured servicemen need to participate to the best of their abilities is safely transported and carefully looked after.
The importance of this job is not to be understated. All members of Team True Spirit have been injured in combat, where they've received multiple injuries. Many have lost one, two or three limbs in the line of duty, while others have experienced other debilitating injuries.
As such, many of them use specialised equipment that allows them to compete at the same level as able-bodied participants. As you can imagine, this equipment is state-of-the art, expensive and very delicate, with bikes, for example, constructed from material like carbon fibre. With Cadogan Tate onboard, the participants have one less thing to worry about.
The story of the company's involvement with Team True Spirit began when Zachary Wright, digital marketing manager at Cadogan Tate, came across the charity last year, when they first competed in the Ironman UK challenge last year.
Humbled by the courage and skill of these soldiers – motivated by impenetrable human spirit, a desire to raise awareness of the challenges facing injured servicemen, and to generate valuable cash for related charities – Zach knew his company could offer their services to the charity.
Following on from this, he duly set up a meeting with his bosses and, true to expectation; was met with on-the-spot approval.
"I expected to have to pitch on where the business could expect a return on providing support," Zach recalled. "I was barely 20 seconds into my pitch before both Jonathan Hood (group managing director) and Rohan Masson Taylor (founder and chairman) had pledged the company's full support."
He continued: "I don't think I've ever felt the responsibility of moving anything so keenly. Unless I had 100 per cent confidence in the company's capabilities, I could never have approached Team True Spirit to offer our logistics support. Too much is riding on this."
Cadogan Tate's contribution doesn't just end there though. While the company is busy working out the logistics involved in handling the equipment during the Cotswold 113 triathlon and then the Ironman UK next month, Zach has been submitting himself to a taxing training regime.
The digital marketing manager will be sharing the experience of the triathlon himself, as one of the conditions of the Ironman challenge states that injured participants must have an able-bodied helper with them.
Zach has been paired up with Colonel David Richmond CBE, who served in the army for 25 years. Injured in Afghanistan in 2008, he spent three and a half years building back his right leg at Headley Court, a rehabilitation centre for wounded members of the British Armed Forces, and now works for Help for Heroes in running their network of four recovery centres.
Col Richard's attitude is indicative of everyone involved in Team True Spirit. It's a can-do mentality. It's an articulation of hope, one which says, yes, at face value, what we aim to do, what our bodies are now capable of, such challenges are impossible. Not for this band of men, for the opposite is true. Anything is possible.
"Due to having major surgery the month before last year’s race I could only support the team and what an emotional day that was!" Col Richmond has said. "This year, no matter how hard I looked, I couldn’t find the word 'no' in my dictionary and frankly hell will freeze over before I don’t take part in July."
Come rain or shine, Team True Spirit, with the support of its extended team, family and friends, backed up by the professional expertise of Cadogan Tate, will no doubt exceed their own expectations at both events. "Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow," Albert Einstein once famously said. "The important thing is not to stop questioning." This coterie of soldiers never will.
Cotswold 113 Middle Distance Triathlon takes place on June 24th 2012.
Ironman UK takes place on July 22nd 2012 in Bolton, Lancashire.
For more information on Team True Spirit please visit www.truespirit.org.uk. If you’d like to make a donation please visit http://www.justgiving.com/Zachary-Wright