A 24-YEAR-OLD chef from Stroud completed his first half Ironman triathlon on Sunday after losing six stone and a half stone to do so.

Raising funds for Cancer Research, Sam Beard completed the Cotswold 113 event, which consisted of a 1.2 mile open water swim, a 56 mile bike ride, and 13.1 mile run, in 8 hours and 40 minutes.

The triumph was a massive watershed moment for the former Archway pupil.

Five years ago, Sam, who now works as a chef at the Falcon Steakhouse in Wotton became, at 19, one of the youngest people ever to run seven marathons in seven days.

But in the intervening years his fitness has dwindled and the weight piled on.

"I got lazy with running," he said.

"I felt like I had achieved everything I could with it and the weight started to come back on over a period of around three years and I got as heavy as 26 stone 2 lb."

At his heaviest, Sam said he was told he couldn’t go on a ride at Alton Towers because he was too big, he had to ask for a bigger seat belt on a plane, and he struggled to walk up the stairs and do up his shoe laces.

“But then I decided to get my life back,” he said.

“Life’s too short to be overweight, unhappy, and not achieving your dreams."

Sam started training in May 2019, with an end goal of doing a full Ironman in 2021.

“It has been the most challenging period of my life, but also the most rewarding," he said.

"It’s been nearly 18 months of training to get myself ready for the race, so it feels great to have finished the half Ironman to have something to show for that training.

"I would have loved to go to the full Ironman next year but all the races are full because of the deferrals so the plan is to do two or three more half Irons next year, keep losing weight and building strength in swim, bike and run and then to go for full Ironman in 2022."

Sam finished Sunday’s triathlon event in 8 hours and 40 minutes, but this included time out to fix some mechanical issues with his bike chain and mend a puncture.

Friends and family were there to cheer him on, and his niece Miley, three, and nephew Alfie, six, even joined him on the final red carpet stretch to the finish line.

Sam decided to use the run as an opportunity to raise money for Cancer Research, in memory of Fran Eddolls.

“I chose to raise money for Cancer Research after the sad passing of Fran Eddolls.

“Fran was a lovely man and a great runner and cyclist himself. He’d have loved to have done one of these I’m sure.

“Fran’s passing touched me because of how close to home it is and how much of a reminder it is that cancer is still ripping people apart on a far too often basis. We need to fight this and stop people like Fran from leaving us too soon.”

If you would like to show your support and make a donation, please visit Sam’s JustGiving page at: bit.ly/30aeuTM