The first ever charity ‘Triathlon Light’ to be undertaken in Belarus was completed by Anton Simon and raised almost £11,000 to support the work done by the Belarusian Children’s Hospice (BCH) to care for terminally-ill children and their families. The demanding course was a 1km swim followed by a 30km bike ride and a 10km run.
Having successfully completed the Asics British 10k London Run in 2011, raising nearly £3k for Friends of BCH, Anton set himself a harder challenge to benefit the hospice. He decided that this should take place in Belarus itself, a country he has known for many years.
Good organisation for this pioneering event was crucial and Russian speaking chairwoman of Friends of BCH, Daryl Ann Hardman, liaised extensively with BCH to ensure that there would not be any hitches. A Friends of BCH fundraising page was set up on VirginMoneyGiving, Anton started training and the countdown began.
The event excited interest from Belarusian TV and the press and news items were aired a few days in advance of the triathlon. On the day, Anton was accompanied by a car and driver donated by a businesswoman in Minsk, Irina who is a nurse at BCH, Maxim from the fundraising department at BCH and our very own Daryl Ann Hardman.
Anton had hoped to swim in a lake but this was not possible in the end because Belarusian beavers had become a tad too aggressive for comfort. As Anton hit the water in a public pool in Minsk the challenge commenced. Twenty lengths, 1km, later it was all going swimmingly. The first stage was completed and Anton was looking and feeling great.
The team drove to Silichi, a winter sports centre near Minsk, for a light lunch before embarking on the next stage. At 1pm, Anton set off from here on a borrowed racing bike. For this leg of the triathlon he was accompanied by the UK Ambassador to Belarus Bruce Bucknell flying the flag in full Team GB Olympics kit on a very professional looking hybrid bike. An embassy car shadowed the determined duo to protect them from fast drivers on the inside lane. On what was one of the hottest days of the year, they cycled 30km to Khatyn. The theme of Anton’s triathlon was, ‘Sorrow to hope and dignity’. Daryl Ann explains the significance of this town, ‘Khatyn was burned by the Germans during WW2 with all its inhabitants locked inside their wooden houses. The foundations of these houses have been preserved with lists of the individuals who perished inside. Every few minutes a bell tolls’. Anton and Bruce laid flowers at the memorial statue. They were invited to sign the guest book by the Director of Khatyn Museum who recognised Anton from the several TV interviews he had done the night before.
Following the bike ride, Bruce went back to Minsk and Team Anton went to BCH where Anton had a rest before embarking on his final stage, a 10km run.
Anton wanted to finish the triathlon at the eternal flame on Victory Square so Maxim had measured out a 10km route from that point to establish where Anton should start running. The blistering heat of the day turned into rain and Anton completed the run in a downpour that led to a thunder storm. Anton was quickly given congratulatory hugs and presented with flowers, a medal from Friends of BCH and a cup from BCH. To escape the torrential rain, everyone dived back into the car which took Anton straight to the hotel where he was staying.
Throughout the day Anton was pursued by several TV crews, assorted reporters and paparazzi. Everyone involved did TV interviews which were aired and gave very positive publicity to BCH.
Next day Anton reported that he was feeling absolutely fine. Daryl Ann commented, ‘When I saw him he said that he even felt like doing another run!’
Following the huge success of this innovative Belarusian triathlon, Anton is keen to help Friends of BCH and BCH make this an annual fundraising event with participants from the UK and Belarus. If you are interested in competing send us a message.
‘Sorrow to Hope and Dignity’ defined the route of this triathlon and mirrors the ground-breaking work of BCH with sick and dying children and their families.
Watch lots of the action and listen to Anton here.