Ultraman hopeful Alan Macpherson: Crohn's disease 'no excuse'

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Media captionAlan Macpherson will go to West Suffolk Hospital for treatment the day before he flies out to Hawaii

A triathlete training for a punishing Ultraman competition in Hawaii says he will not let Crohn's disease stop him from competing.

Alan Macpherson, who was born in Inverness in the Scottish Highlands and now lives near Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk, is one of 35 competitors who will swim 6.2 miles (9.9km), cycle 261 miles (420km) and run 52.4 miles (84.3km) over the space of three days.

But a day before he flies out, Mr Macpherson will go to West Suffolk Hospital for his latest batch of treatment for Crohn's disease.

"I'll sit in an armchair for four to six hours and read a book with a drip above me," he said. "It's pretty painless."

Crohn's disease causes inflammation in the gut and affects an estimated 90,000 people in the UK.

A severe case put Mr Macpherson, who was a keen marathon runner, in hospital for three weeks in 2004 and almost killed him, he said.

"I thought that was it - my running days were over," he said.

But he slowly built up his strength and took up the triathlon in 2008, competed in his first Ironman competition in 2010, the inaugural Ultraman UK competition a year later and on the back of this was invited to the world championship event.

'The odd shark'

"I'll refuse to use Crohn's as any excuse," Mr Macpherson said.

"I normally find within one or two weeks after the treatment I find myself to be at my best - so in this sense the timing is perfect."

The 39-year-old is the only athlete from Britain to be competing in the competition, which starts on 23 November.

Image caption Alan Macpherson thought Crohn's disease had put an end to his running in 2004

"I qualified for the world championships in Hawaii by completing Ultraman UK in a time of 26 hours and 47 minutes," he said.

The course around Snowdon National Park matched the distance he will face in Hawaii.

He said two notable differences would be the heat and the scenery.

"There may be the odd shark in the sea," he said. "And I'll be running through volcanoes - hopefully I can take in the scenery."

To prepare, Mr Macpherson said he had been cycling up to 500 miles (804km), running 50 miles and swimming 10 miles (16km) a week.

He said he had been encouraged by the level of support received and was focussed on extending a successful year for British sport.

"To be the only Great Britain athlete in the year 2012, with everything that's gone on, is absolutely brilliant," he said.

"There's a lot of interest and good wishes so I feel duty bound to put a good performance in for those wishing me well."

He is confident of his own ability and has researched his fellow Ultraman athletes, who he said have "huge respect for each other".

"The Ultraman motto is we meet as strangers, we compete as friends and we part as family," he said.

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