TRAVELLER Lee Jones is used to putting in the miles — but now he will do a different sort of travelling as he competes in the gruelling 140-mile Ironman triathlon in Bolton.
The 38-year-old has spent much of his life travelling around the country with his showman family and community.
He started training just after Christmas for the 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile run and has been competing in half-marathons and full marathons.
He said: “I went to watch the Ironman in Bolton last year and the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. It was so inspiring.
“I decided there and then that I’d take part this year.”
Already keen on fitness and living healthily, Mr Jones has also become an adept cyclist and is a strong swimmer.
He said: “It’s tough training and you put your body through a lot, but I’m determined to do well and raise a large amount for charity.”
Mr Jones, who is completing Ironman to help the Bolton branch of Children Today, agreed that travellers were not often thought of as “community supporters” but he said there was a difference between ordinary travellers and showmen travellers.
He said: “We are the fairground people who go into areas and bring the fairgrounds, which are a welcome attraction.
“I’m part of the Lancashire section and we do care about local communities although, yes, I guess it’s fairly unusual to have a traveller doing the Ironman and supporting a local charity like this.”
His family settled at a permanent caravan site in Hindley 18 years ago but Mr Jones continued travelling around Lancashire with his grandmother until he was in his teens.
He has always been interested in sports and fitness and played football for a travellers’ showman side as well as for local pub teams.
He has also recently opened his own gym — The Engine Room — in Derby Lane, Hindley, in a former warehouse just 100 yards from his caravan home.
Mr Jones added: “I wanted to do the Ironman to help a charity that really means something to me.
“My six year-old nephew Emerson was born with spina bifida and has mobility problems so I know what this type of equipment means to children, and I wanted to help.”
Children Today regional fundraiser Elizabeth Oakes said: “I just think what he is doing is fantastic. We’ve got two competitors in the Ironman — Shaun Lomax from Fanworth is the other one — and we are so grateful for their help.”
Children Today buys specialised wheelchairs and other equipment for disabled and disadvantaged children.
Ironman UK takes place in Bolton on July 20. To support Lee go to justgiving.com/Lee-Jones20