Londoner completes cross-UK triathlon in aid of hospital that saved his life

(Jack Guilfoyle)
(Jack Guilfoyle)

A London-based filmmaker has completed a cross-country triathlon in aid of the hospital that saved his life when he developed an abscess on his brain at age 11.

Jack Guilfoyle (known as Jack Gilly), 30, ran, cycled and swam from Land’s End to John O’Groats, raising more than £12,000 for Great Ormond Street Hospital (Gosh).

Mr Gilly finished the 1,002 mile challenge, which included 720 miles of cycling, 11 miles of swimming, and 10 back-to-back marathons running, on October 7 after 21 days on the road.

“I am overwhelmed by people’s generosity,” he told the PA news agency.

“Everybody has been so kind with their donations and support messages, and I am very pleased with the amount that’s been raised for Gosh.

“It feels great to finish the challenge, but it won’t be the last.”

(Jack Guilfoyle)

Mr Gilly was inspired to donate to Gosh after the children’s hospital in London saved his life when he developed an abscess on his brain at age 11, undergoing a major surgery on his 12th birthday.

“In the morning prior to arriving at Gosh, I had been admitted to Whipps Cross Hospital,” he told PA.

“I had been on antibiotics for two weeks without improvement and my GP was very concerned… an immediate CT scan revealed an abscess on the brain.”

Mr Gilly explained that the abscess had caused seizures, and he was paralysed down his right side, which was helped with physiotherapy.

“I owe Gosh a debt I will never repay, but this was my way of saying thank you,” he said.

“I often think about the dedication and patience my surgeon, Guirish Solanki endured whilst operating on me, and this inspired me to undergo a challenge that would test me in a similar way.

“During my one year’s training programme and until the end of my triathlon, a picture of Guirish Solanki remained my phone’s background wallpaper to constantly remind me why I was doing this.”

(Jack Guilfoyle)

The filmmaker said the most rewarding part of the triathlon was the swim through Lake Windermere due to his fear of deep open water.

He said: “I am a confident cyclist and runner, but I only began open water swimming in February.

“A big fear of mine has always been large bodies of cold and deep open water, and the sheer vastness and depth of Lake Windermere gave me shivers.

“Two miles into the swim it became very challenging – not physically, but mentally.

“The wind, rain and early morning loss of light added to my discomfort, but after several deep breaths and a reassuring conversation with myself, I continued swimming.

“Hours later as I approached the jetty at the other end of Windermere, my goggles began filling with tears of relief… Needless to say, the feeling of achievement was one that will stick with me forever.”

(Jack Guilfoyle)

Mr Gilly said he is “grateful” to have not only have finished the challenge injury-free, but to have raised thousands for Gosh.

He said: “Twenty-one days of busy A roads, deep cold open water and isolation in the extreme weather conditions of the Scottish Highlands all carry risks, so finishing the challenge injury-free was a blessing.

“I am also very thankful to have such an incredible family and friends who all pulled together to make this happen.

“My fundraising target was £10,000. I initially felt this target was unachievable, but just like the challenge itself, I was determined to think unrealistically and throw all logic out the window.

“The overwhelming support I had received within such a short period of time left me feeling like never before. I was very emotional; but this feeling only fuelled me more.”

To see donations to Gosh, see:

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