Team aims to prove their mettle with double Iron Man challenge

South Shields crew manager Jamie Brady, Durham fire fighter Gaz Mitchell, HQ Steve Gustard and South Shields watch manager Eddie Cooper.
South Shields crew manager Jamie Brady, Durham fire fighter Gaz Mitchell, HQ Steve Gustard and South Shields watch manager Eddie Cooper.
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Friends of a firefighter who lost his fight against stomach cancer at the age of just 35 will set out on a mammoth challenge in his name this weekend.

Peter Metcalfe – who was based with the blue watch at Hebburn Fire Station and lived in Boldon – died in June 2012, just three weeks after he was diagnosed with the disease.

Peter Metcalfe, who died five years ago due to stomach cancer.

Peter Metcalfe, who died five years ago due to stomach cancer.

As a legacy to the fitness fanatic, his mates, fellow firefighters and members of his family have pledged to raise funds in his name to help others.

This year, they will take on the StrongArm 2017, with six of the team bidding to complete a double Iron Man.

Watch manager Eddie Cooper, crew manager Jamie Brady, both based at South Shields, Carl Stephenson, who is based at Rainton Bride Fire Station, Stevie Gustard, who works at Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service’s headquarters in Washington and Durham firefighter Gaz Mitchell will join Peter’s brother Warren, who is also based at Durham, on the challenge.

It will see them swim 2.4 miles, cycle 112 miles and run a marathon of 26.2 miles – twice over, without a break – while about 20 others will take on sections of the event near Jedburgh and the Scottish Borders.

If he had been here and this was for someone else, he would have been the thing for him, and the crazier the better.

Eddie Cooper

Cash raised will be split between the Firefighters’ Charity and the Boarders Children’s Charity.

Eddie said: “Pete was such a character, everybody liked him and he was so funny and would do anything for anybody.

“He was just the life and soul and everybody he met warmed to him.

“If he had been here and this was for someone else, he would have been the thing for him, and the crazier the better.

“All of us are pretty fit and we’ve trained as much as we can for it, but to do an Iron Man challenge and then do it again, it’s going to be hard.”

The idea of doing endurance events in memory of Peter and to help charities is down to his friend Paul Thompson, and started in 2013 with a four-day challenge which took in kayaking in Lock Ness, a marathon up Ben Nevis and surrounding hills, then a bike ride back to the service’s headquarters.

Every year since, similar feats have been created, with £80,000-plus raised so far.

Firefighters from across the country have got involved, with the 2014 team scooping a title from the Spirit of Fire Awards.

Anyone who wants to sponsor the team can donate via virginmoneygiving.com/SomeoneSpecial/StrongArm2017.