A YOUNG Huddersfield woman is going that extra mile to provide help for heroes.
Former Greenhead College student Kelly Bostock, 26, helps with the rehabilitation of Britain’s heroes badly wounded in Afghanistan.
And now she is to join them in a heartwarming challenge.
She has had to learn to swim and ride a bike to join Team True Spirit – a team of able-bodied helpers who will join wounded servicemen, many with lost limbs, to complete the gruelling Ironman UK Triathlon.
Some of the wounded heroes will have to be carried to different parts of the course on July 31.
But they, and physiotherapist Kelly, are determined to complete the challenge – one of the toughest sports events in Britain.
Competitors have to swim 2.4 miles in open water, cycle 112 miles and run a marathon, all in the same day.
Up to 15 wounded servicemen, all patients at Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre Headley Court in Surrey, have entered the race.
Able-bodied members of staff will help the men complete the sections of the race they are physically unable to do.
Kelly, who has worked as a sports rehabilitation at Headley Court for almost two years, has been training up to 17 hours a week for the last six months to help her patients complete their punishing challenge.
Before agreeing to take part, Kelly could only swim one length of breast-stroke and had never even been on a road bike.
But she has been inspired by the injured troops and over the recent months she has learned to swim front crawl in open water and is going on bike training rides of six to seven hours with other colleagues who have volunteered to take part in the triathlon.
Kelly, who was a pupil at Moor End High School, is now so fit that she has recently completed an Olympic triathlon and a Half Ironman race.
She said: “It has been an incredible challenge.
“Swimming in open water is quite scary, as is getting used to the clipless pedals on the bike. And the mass starts at the swims are terrifying.
“I have gradually built up the training and it has been challenging overcoming my fears. But now I can’t wait for the day in Bolton.”
Kelly has the full support of her parents Michael and Kate Bostock, of Hawthorne Terrace, Crosland Moor.
One team member is Royal Marines Commando Joe Townsend, 23, who lost both legs in a roadside bomb in February 2008. He will be competing in all three sections of the triathlon, with the use of a wheelchair in the marathon.
Joe said: “I was injured in an IED (improvised explosive device) blast in February 2008, resulting in me losing both legs. Just three years after leaving hospital I am taking on one of the toughest challenges I have set myself to date. I hope to complete all three legs of the Ironman UK course on my own within the time limits.
“I have never been a strong swimmer but I thought I would jump in the lake and give it ago.
“The first session went OK and I didn’t drown (which was a bonus) so I thought “sod it, if I am doing the other 138 miles what’s an extra 2.4 going to hurt!”
Another hero is Kingsley Ward, of the Parachute Regiment. He lost both legs, part of his right arm and most of his left forearm.
“It’s coming up to the end of my first year of rehabilitation at Headley Court and I have participated in loads of different sports, from skiing to piloting gliders, and now the Bolton Ironman.
“The staff at Headley Court must be doing something right.”
Kelly said: “The servicemen are just unbelievable. Many of them are just young lads but they are so determined, they are a real inspiration to us. They have helped us more than we have helped them.”
The injured servicemen have battled with challenges such as buoyancy issues in the water, managing the bike with prosthetic legs and building huge amount of upper body strength for the hand bike and wheelchair.
Team True Spirit is hoping to raise thousands of pounds for Help for Heroes, The Army Benevolent Fund, the Royal Marines Association and Blesma, the charity for servicemen who have lost limbs.
Anyone wishing to support the causes can donate on the team website at www.truespirit.org.uk