Hampshire resident and Parkinson's UK chair taking on Arch to Arc challenge to raise awareness of the disorder
A Hampshire man living with Parkinson’s is taking on yet another epic endurance activity to raise awareness of the disorder.
In October, Tadley resident Gary Shaughnessy and his friend Andy Tucker broke the Guinness World Record for the longest distance travelled on three legs, completing nearly 300 loops of the Silchester playing field – a total of over 117km.
Now, Mr Shaughnessy is ditching the leg ties and donning the running shoes and rowing and cycling gear for a unique triathlon taking him from England to France.
In the Arch to Arc event, the Parkinson’s UK chairman – who was diagnosed with the disorder in 2015 at the age of 48 – will run 80 miles from Marble Arch to Dover, row the equivalent of the 21 miles across the Channel and then cycle 200 miles into Paris, finishing at the Arc de Triomphe.
Mr Shaughnessy will be starting the challenge on Wednesday and hopes to complete it in four days, arriving in Paris on June 25.
Speaking to the Newbury Weekly News, he said he wanted to raise awareness of the difference that exercise could make to physical health, mental well-being and neurology progression of the disorder.
He said: “After breaking the three-legged world record with Andy, I needed to find something bigger and better this year, and someone suggested Arch to Arc.
“I partially do it to keep myself fit and exercising makes a real difference.
“But partially I want to raise awareness and funds for Parkinson’s, particularly awareness because a lot of people assume being diagnosed is the end of your life.
“In my experience – although there are a lot of things that aren’t good about Parkinson’s – I’ve been really lucky. I’ve had seven-and-a-half years of meeting inspirational people and learning a lot about myself.”
Mr Shaughnessy, who is also chair of the Z Zurich Foundation and England Athletics, said he had received messages of support from celebrities including former Tottenham Hotspur captain Steve Perryman, Coronation Street actress Katherine Kelly and Vicar of Dibley co-writer Paul Mayhew-Archer.
He will also be supported along the way, with around 40 people joining him on the run and around 15 people joining him on the cycle. He will be in a two-man boat to take on the row between Dover and Ramsgate.
For Mr Shaughnessy, the key message is: ‘Live life, love life, stop Parkinson’s'.
He continued: “That’s the whole message, which is just because you have Parkinson’s, it doesn’t stop you living your life and getting on with things – but we still want to stop it.”
Mr Shaughnessy’s progress can be tracked at www.garyschallenges.com, while people can also donate and leave messages of support through the same link.
All donations will be match funded by the Zurich Community Trust.