5in5 raise £20,000 and counting for charity
Team 5in5, Adrian Lopez, Charles Harrison and Kerion Alvarez completed their gruelling emotionally draining challenge raising £20,000 in the process with more funds still due in.
As they swam to what would be their finish line at GASA family and friends cheered them on as did the Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo, and his two sons.
They were raising money for Cancer Relief Support Gibraltar and the Cardiac Association Gibraltar. Representatives from both charities were also present.
Climbing up out of the water marked the end of five days where the athletes completed a half iron man each day. This accumulated in a total of 450km cycled, 105.5km ran and 9.5km swam.
Over the five days the men were never alone, each day cyclists, runners and swimmers joined them for all or part of the challenge. The community came out in support and perhaps on Saturday more than any other day.
A stream of cyclists could be seen from 6am pedalling the 20km loop that had been laid out. Some people completed the 90km and some cycled one loop, it was the taking part that was boosting Team 5in5’s morale.
The half marathon on Saturday had the largest turn out of the week as runners overtook roads and footpaths cars beeped their horns in support and not anger. One team that really came out to support all the runners was ‘The Jelly Babies’ crew, this vital pit stop was manned by four year old Noah Trinidad, Luca Trinidad, 6, and Evie Trinidad 2.
This trio formed a vital part of the nutrition runners needed on the hot day and handed out Jelly Babies full of glucose ready to fuel the athletes. In addition, the roars of well done could be heard by everyone approaching them. To thank them for their support they were each presented with 5in5 medals on Tuesday.
The final km of the half marathon was along Main St where passer-by’s also cheered the group of runners on.
Following an emotional finish in Casemates the men made their way to GASA for the final part of their challenge. The swim.
Which ended with the swimmers who had taken part forming a ‘guard of honour’ for all three men to pass through before they climbed up out of the water. Stopping briefly before they did so the three men embraced each other in a hug that showed these athletes had achieved something more than just five half iron mans in as many days. They had achieved true sportsmanship, friendship and unity.
Charles Harrison was first out of the water and with a cramping leg gave a grimacing smile to the dozens of supporters who were clapping and cheering him on. The moment was particularly poignant for Mr Harrison, who was readily embraced by support crew member Alfred Ballester, as he was raising money for a charity that had helped him and his family when he lost both his parents to cancer.
Next out of the water was Adrian Lopez who was also greeted by Mr Ballester as was Kerion Alvarez.
Standing on the waterside the weight of the emotion of the event was evident as each man took a second to compose themselves. But, that was ok as it was clear many in the crowd needed that time also.
“It has been painful, you can see it in their faces and, in their bodies,” Mr Ballester told the crowd before inviting Mr Picardo to say a few words and hand over the medals.
Mr Picardo said: “Many congratulations for being able to demonstrate that you can push yourself further if something inside you is telling you, you must and this is a demonstration of what we can each do for a cause if the cause is the right one for each of us.”
Thanking them on behalf of both charities and the community he added.
“You are inspirational to all of us.”
Speaking to the Chronicle afterwards Mr Harrison’s first words were, “I’m happy, but glad it all over. It has been a very tough five days emotionally. It has been tough.”
The toughest thing for him was the run stating that he struggled daily on the run and that it was always on his mind every time he got off the bike.
Despite the support and the fact it was the last run today that did not make it easier, he said.
“It was probably the worst day because I was emotionally struggling all along. It has been a battle.”
“I have always said there was never a single moment that I knew I wasn’t going to do this. I knew from when we set the challenge I knew.”
“Last night we were talking about it and I was asked ‘how tough was it’ and I said I have seen my Dad suffer for five years this has been five days.”
He said he would now spend some time with his family and to recover. However, he was back running and swimming a couple days later.
He noted how supportive the community had been and every message that he put out on social media was answered and everyone got behind them.
Mr Lopez said that the challenge was hard physically, but it was also hard emotionally. He puts this down to the fact they are constantly aware that there are people who should be there with them but are not.
“Mentally I am very emotional today thinking about people who are not here with us now. One of my best mates is not here now and I have a history in my family as well,” said Mr Lopez.
“Luckily there have been survivors of cancer and heart conditions as well.”
Mr Lopez will now take some time to relax, celebrate with his family especially his wife and children.
Mr Alvarez stated he was extremely happy and that the challenge has been amazing since they first came up with the idea.
“It has been a roller-coaster ride and I felt really strong as the days progress but emotionally it has been just building up slowly but surely,” he said.
His mother was, as expected, concerned that the gruelling five days might have been too much for her son given his heart condition.
“I understand my parents concern obviously,” he said.
“But if someone wants to do something and you don’t end up doing it, it has a detrimental effect, so it is a no win situation. It is a case of having to meet halfway. So I pushed myself to a limit but I always know my boundaries and I always try to keep within the safe levels of mine. As long as I am keeping that in mind and not pushing myself too much I know it is ok.”
He found the swimming the hardest as it is his weakest sport despite liking the sport he feels he does not have that natural style. He likes the bike more and this is evident given that this week he is in the north of Spain cycling close to the Pyrenees.
At a reception for the three men, their family, friends and supporters they all relaxed and enjoyed some well earned drinks and food.
During this time the celebrations were paused for a moment and a minute’s silence was held to remember and honour those who are no longer here.
Following this a bouquet of flowers was presented to both Mr Harrison’s and Mr Lopez’s wives for the support and encouragement they had given the team. In an act that caused a number of lumps in throats Mr Alvarez thanked his greatest supporter, his father, and placed the medal that had been presented to him by Mr Picardo around his father’s neck.
Donations are still being accepted by Team 5in5 and can be made via https://gofund.me/9181ba40