Amputee marine Joe Townsend enters Race Across America

Joe Townsend Joe Townsend will endure blistering heat during the Race Across America on his hand cycle which sits just above the road

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A Royal Marine from East Sussex, who lost both his legs in Afghanistan, is to compete in one of the world's toughest cycle races.

Joe Townsend, who lives in Polegate, is part of an eight-man team of wounded ex-soldiers who are taking part in the 3,051 mile Race Across America (RAAM).

He will take part in the eight day race, from Saturday, on a hand cycle, after being hurt in an IED explosion.

Mr Townsend, 24, said it was a "challenge of epic proportions".

'No limitations'

Start Quote

It is proving to yourself that after disability, things still can be achieved”

End Quote Joe Townsend Former Royal Marine

"I'm fairly anxious," he explained. "The whole scale of the event is rather large - 3,051 miles across America, with 170,000 foot of climbing is going to be tough for anybody let alone a team of injured servicemen with life-changing injuries."

The team, which includes four double amputees on hand bikes and four on upright bikes, will cycle 350 to 500 miles a day, crossing 12 states.

Mr Townsend said the sheer blistering heat was one of his main concerns about doing the race.

"Being a hand cyclist, sitting just inches of the tarmac, you've got the sun beating down on you and the heat radiating off the tarmac which makes the cycling so much harder," he said.

Mr Townsend has completed in many endurance races since his injury in 2008, including the Bolton Iron Man in 2011, which he completed in just 12 hours.

He said: "It is proving to yourself that after disability, things still can be achieved and that there aren't any limitations really, you just need to adapt round to a way of achieving them."

The team are raising money for Help for Heroes to give back to other wounded servicemen and women.

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