A former soldier injured in Afghanistan is to join a team taking on an epic journey across America in aid of Help for Heroes.
Michael Swain from Henlow, a former serviceman with the 3 Rifles who was hit by an IED in Afghanistan in 2009 when he was just 19, is a double amputee above the knees and suffered shrapnel wounds to both arms.
He has been selected as part of the team taking on one of the world’s toughest endurance cycling events, the epic 3,081-mile Race Across America (RAAM).
Starting in Oceanside, California, competitors pass through 12 states, covering more than 3,081 miles and climb in excess of 170,000 feet before finishing in Annapolis, Maryland.
Michael said: “Taking on the RAAM is a big challenge and one that I couldn’t turn down. To be able to look back and say you were part of an elite team who took on this challenge would be great. We are all ex-military guys so to be back in that environment again with the guys will be really good; military companionship and banter will get us to the end.”
Michael will be part of a team, plus two reserves, of individuals who suffer from psychological and physical wounds and they will push themselves to the limit both physically and mentally in the pursuit of finishing the RAAM in under seven days.
To achieve their seven-day target, the team will need to maintain an average speed of over 18.3 mph covering a minimum of 440 miles a day.
The team will be captained by former 40 Commando Royal Marine and now military Paralympian Joe Townsend, 29, of Eastbourne. Joe was injured in 2008 after standing on an Improvised Explosive Device and lost both of his legs in the blast. Following 14 hours of surgery at Camp Bastion, he was flown back to the UK where he spent five weeks in a critical care ward.
Lead strength and conditioning coach at Help for Heroes, Jon-Paul Nevin, said: “A challenge like Race Across America helps to emphasise the power of sport in the recovery process for our wounded, injured and sick.
“Sport is incredibly powerful as a means of rebuilding confidence and providing a sense of empowerment, as well as aiding physical and mental recovery. By taking part in this epic feat and demonstrating their strength and determination in both training for and completing this challenge, the riders will hopefully inspire many others who are trying to rebuild their life post-injury.”
The riders hope to raise £100,000 for Help for Heroes.