When dad-of-two Steven Davies started running to lose weight, he never dreamt he would sign up for an Ironman event. Yet in September, he completed his first race and managed to raise a tremendous £835 for Wales Air Ambulance.

When the former rugby player’s weight tipped over 20 stone, Steven knew he needed to do something before his weight spiralled out of control. He threw on his running shoes and started pounding the streets of Tonyrefail, where he lives with his wife Marie and children, Owen, 13, and Bethan, 12.

He initially set himself small challenges and built up the miles until he was registering to run the Cardiff Half Marathon. After finishing his first race, there was no stopping Steven. He took part in further events, challenging himself to beat his previous times and he also managed to lose five stone.

For his 40th birthday, Steven, who works for the emergency services, decided to take on the ultimate challenge – Ironman Wales, a gruelling long-distance triathlon which consists of a 2.4-mile sea swim, a 112-mile hilly bike course and a marathon through the streets of Tenby. However, due to Covid-19, the event was postponed twice and rather than call it day, the now 42-year-old kept training.

In addition to Ironman Wales, he successfully completed the Olympic Distance Triathlon in Cardiff and the Long Course Weekend in Tenby during the summer, in preparation for the big event. He regularly would start training at 4am and was supported by his children who often joined him on bike rides or swimming sessions.

Steven said: “It took a lot of commitment and hard work. Training also took a lot of time out of my family life, so I would get up early to try and be able to spend my days off with my family. The endurance challenges were tough but very rewarding.

“My family have offered so much support and encouragement, especially with the early morning and late night training sessions, along with a few injuries I had along the way. Having started the fitness journey in 2017, I am now five stone lighter, so the personal fitness and health benefits have also been huge.”

Steven chose to raise money for the Wales Air Ambulance as he believes the Charity does an excellent job all over Wales.

He said: “Through my line of work I have seen first-hand just how valuable the Wales Air Ambulance and its medical teams are. I have been in a few situations whereby I have been helping to save somebody’s life and it has always been a relief to see the highly qualified medics arriving, whether that is in the air ambulance or by car.

“It always amazes me how fantastic the Charity is and the fact that it relies on public donations is remarkable. I felt that it was important to raise vital funds for a charity that offers and does so much for Wales.”

The Charity needs to raise £8 million every year to keep its helicopters in the air and rapid response vehicles on the road. The Wales Air Ambulance service offers advanced critical care across Wales. It is delivered via a unique Third Sector and Public Sector partnership between the Wales Air Ambulance Charity and the Emergency Medical Retrieval and Transfer Service (EMRTS Cymru).

As a result, the service is consultant-led and is known as a ‘flying emergency department’, taking hospital-standard treatments to the patient at the scene of an incident. This includes the ability to administer anaesthesia, deliver blood transfusions and conduct minor operations, all at the scene of an incident.

Reflecting on completing his first Ironman, which took 16 hours and 34 minutes, Steven said it was a wonderful event and thanked his family, friends, and local businesses for their support.

He said: “The atmosphere at Ironman Wales was fantastic. I would love to do it again and beat my time. My wife and children as well as my nieces were at the start to cheer me on and kept me going along the way. At mile 10 of the run, where I felt ready to give up, they helped with their words of encouragement.

“Local businesses sponsored my running and cycling tops by paying to have their logos on them and a friend who has his own business printed them for free, which help me to raise money for the Wales Air Ambulance. It really helped me knowing so many people had helped to support me.”

Laura Coyne, Community Fundraiser for Wales Air Ambulance, said: “To take part in an Ironman is a remarkable achievement and Steven’s story is really inspiring.  Not only has he raised £835 for the Wales Air Ambulance, but he also lost five stone in weight and successfully completed a huge personal fitness goal, which he wouldn’t have contemplated a few years ago.

 “Thank you so much to Steven and all those who supported his fundraising. This fantastic donation will save lives.”