Friday 22 March 2019

'Ironman' Billy gearing up for a marathon challenge

Curraglass man who beat prostate cancer set to take on the gruelling test of stamina

Billy Carr competing in the 2018 Edge Sports Blackwater Triathlon in Fermoy
Billy Carr competing in the 2018 Edge Sports Blackwater Triathlon in Fermoy

Bill Browne

Having battled to overcome a prostate cancer diagnosis, Blackwater Search and Rescue Unit member Billy Carr has now set his sights on another challenge that will test his fitness levels and stamina to their very limits.

Billy, who hails from Curraglass near Fermoy, has signed up for the first-ever Irish 'Ironman' challenge that is due to take part in Youghal this coming June - with the aim of raising much-needed funding for the search-and-rescue unit. 

Billy, who earlier this month was among 12 members of the unit to be honoured with long-service medals recognising their dedication and commitment, will compete against more than 2,600 athletes from 62 countries in the gruelling event on Sunday, June 23.

The race will kick off with a 2.4-mile swim from Claycastle Beach, followed by a 112-mile cycle that will see competitors take on the infamous Windmill Hill twice before heading around Cork Harbour and returning to Youghal. The final leg of the challenge will be a 26.2-mile marathon run around the town. 

A member of the Blackwater SAC since 1997, Billy was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2016 and, as a result, was restricted from scuba diving for a period of time. 

To help both his physical and mental health, he took up swimming, and as his recovery proceeded, he also took up cycling and running. 

"Eventually, I decided to combine all three and joined the South Coast Triathlon Club and signed up for the 2017 Youghal Triathlon, competing the course in just over two hours," said Billy.  He also took part in last year's Edge Sports Blackwater Triathlon in Fermoy. 

"When I heard that the Ironman would be coming to Youghal I signed up immediately. I have always wanted to take part in one, and as it will be happening virtually on my own doorstep, it was too good an opportunity to pass up," he added. 

His aim is to raise €10,000 for Blackwater SAC through sponsorship and donations, money that is badly needed to help offset the approximately €60,000 needed to run the unit each year.  Unit spokesman Ken Barry urged people to get behind Billy and sponsor him for the event. 

"Billy and all of our divers are all volunteers, and as we receive little of no statutory funding, we pay for their own equipment, training, medical and other expenses. All funds raised through different events are used for maintenance and the purchase of specialist search equipment," said Ken. 

"It is people like Billy who ensure that we are able to take part in search and rescue missions across the length and breadth of the country each year alongside the emergency services. We are very proud of Billy and hope that people will lend him their support by donating to this great cause," he added. 

For more information about the Ironman challenge and to donate to Billy's fundraiser, visit