A 46-year-old man is running, cycling and swimming in races across Wales, taking on a mammoth fitness challenge to run up donations to fund Wales Air Ambulance’s missions.

Derek Roberts, from Caernarfon, has signed himself up for six triathlons across the country, as well as the world-famous IRONMAN Wales event, to raise awareness and lifesaving donations for the helicopter charity.

The Caernarfon man has so far conquered triathlons in Llanelli, Llandberis, Swansea and Cardiff, with races in Fishguard and Mumbles to be completed in the Summer. He will then complete his triathlon challenge by competing in IRONMAN Wales in Pembrokeshire in September.

Derek served for 23 years in the Welsh Guards, first discovering his passion for triathlons 24 years ago whilst in the military.

Derek said: “I completed my first triathlon back in 1993 when I was service in Northern Ireland, as part of the ITU races.

“After I left the forces I did not continue my level of fitness, as the operational tours took its toll on my body, suffering with two prolapsed discs.

“But last year, I was determined to complete my final triathlon in Cardiff, but I ended up completing five and I caught the bug again.

“This year, I have signed up for six races. So far, I have completed four, with Fishguard Triathlon and Mumbles Triathlon to go. Whilst I was training for these races, I decided to have a go at the ultimate endurance race, and signed up for IRONMAN Wales.

“This will be an epic challenge for me. Being 46-years-old does not help, as my body is not as well trained anymore!”

With four triathlons already completed this year, the Caernarfon man has two more races to run before he takes on IRONMAN Wales; where Derek will swim 2.4 miles in the cold sea, before cycling 112 miles throughout the Pembrokeshire countryside and running 26.2 miles through the medieval town walls and picturesque beachfront of Tenby.

The six triathlons will help to train Derek for the difficult race on the Pembrokeshire coast, preparing him for the gruelling swim, cycle race and marathon.

Derek said: “I am using these six triathlons as a part of my training for the IRONMAN. The training will be slow and methodical, as I need to build up my strength and technique – especially for the marathon run.

“I am trying to get at least four hours of swimming, 50 miles on the bike and a 30-mile run in every week to help prepare.”

The 46-year-old signed up to run these races to help Wales Air Ambulance raise the £6.5million needed every year to keep its four helicopters flying across Wales, and this charity is close to Derek’s heart.

“I decided to race for Wales Air Ambulance for several reasons.

“I have had vast experience of using helicopters during my time serving in the conflict in Ireland, and I know how vital they are. With Wales having plenty of rural countryside, helicopters can get to casualties to save their life.

“But also, my mother Sylvia Roberts has been working as a volunteer for Wales Air Ambulance in their Caernarfon Shop for many years and she is passionate about the charity”, Derek added.

Derek hopes to raise £1,500 for the Welsh helicopter charity through his triathlon fundraiser, enough to fund one of Wales Air Ambulance’s lifesaving missions across Wales.

As a charity, WAA relies on donations to fund its operations, including completing emergency medical missions in Wales’s vast countryside and bustling cities, and flying adults, children and babies in urgent inter-hospital transfers.

Through charitable donations, Wales Air Ambulance bring their critical care team, pioneering medical equipment and advanced aircraft to the patient – bringing the A&E department to the roadside, to deliver medical interventions before flying them to the care they need as quickly as possible.

Mark Stevens, Wales Air Ambulance Fundraising Manager, said: “We cannot thank Derek enough for his outstanding support. He has taken on a huge challenge in aid of us, and with his military background, he knows what a difference an air ambulance can make in a medical emergency in a country like Wales.

“Not only that, but the support for Wales Air Ambulance runs in the family, as his mother helps to raise lifesaving donations for WAA by selling pre-loved items in our Caernarfon shop.

“We wouldn’t be able to complete our missions across Wales without the support we receive from people like Derek, they play a vital role in keeping our helicopters flying to come to the aid of babies, children and adults in Wales in their time of need.

“Every mile that Derek swims, cycles and runs is helping to save lives across the country.”

If you would like to sponsor Derek on his huge triathlon challenge, click here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/derek-air-ambulancewales