LINDA Jennings and Lucy Tustin are aiming to take their place in the history books by becoming the first Bolton women to complete Ironman UK in the town.
No local female has ever finished the triathlon since it came to Bolton two years ago. But individual gain could not be further from Jennings’ mind as she takes on the tough challenge.
Jennings will compete in the gruelling race in memory of her friend’s daughter who died last year. Georgia Murray passed away at the age of 19 after a heart problem, and the 44-year-old from Horwich will raise money for the Children’s Heart Foundation in her honour.
“My friend Steve first suggested I do the Ironman but I was in two minds about it and just thought ‘maybe next year’,” said Jennings.
“But when Georgia died I said to her dad I’d do it and raise money for her. It’s bad enough when anyone dies with heart problems, but for it to be someone’s child is terrible.
“It shouldn’t be allowed to happen, so I’m just trying to do my bit to help raise funds for better facilities and equipment.”
Mother-of-one Jennings will be no stranger to the people of Bolton having busked in the town centre, often alongside popular singer-songwriter Nick Bold. She also has a regular open-mic night at the Belmont Bull and Black Horse in Limbrick.
“I often used to play my guitar outside Marks and Spencer or on the corner opposite Boots, but I don’t do it as often as I used to,”
said the talented musician.
“I also do the pubs and clubs but I don’t think anyone would recognise me because I’ve lost so much weight training for the Ironman.
“I just hope I can finish.
People go on about getting a good time but you’ve got to be realistic and getting round will be a fantastic achievement.”
Tustin, aged 39, is being driven to become the first woman from Bolton to cross the finishing line after fighting back from serious illness.
The civil servant from Heaton said: “For me, it’s all about getting round the course. I’ve done the Ironman triathlon before but I struggled with illness last year. When I was diagnosed, I thought that was it, but I’ve fought back.
“The support of friends and family, especially my partner Neil who has been a rock, has spurred me on and, by competing, I’m proving my point.”
The mum-of-three added: “I especially wanted to do it this year because there have been rumours that it will be the last time the competition will be held in Bolton. I thought it’d be great to compete in my home town.”
Tustin, who will marry fiance Neil Clark in Jamaica next month, aims to raise £2,000 for the Childrens’ Society.