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A life-changing test of endurance

Chris (l) and Jansen promote the fundraiser on local radio last week.
Chris (l) and Jansen promote the fundraiser on local radio last week. / SUR
  • Under the banner of Trifit Marbella Big Challenge, two athletes will undertake a gruelling triathlon in order to raise money for prosthetic limbs for a youngster from Marbella

Marbella. Two athletic expats are to undertake a gruelling triathlon in order to help Sarah Almagro Vallejo, the youngster from Marbella who had her hands and feet amputated after contracting septicaemia, a potentially life-threatening condition caused by the body's response to infection.

Chris Grenfell (53) and Jansen Riley (55) learned of Sarah's plight from friends at the gym where they train in Marbella and decided to organise the event in a bid to raise money for prosthetic limbs, which will cost around 200,000 euros.

Under the banner of Trifit Marbella Big Challenge, the two athletes will undertake a five kilometre swim along the Marbella coastline, before embarking on a 200 kilometre bicycle ride to Granada, and then a race on foot up the highest tarmac road in Europe to Pico Veleta, a mountain that is over 3,300 metres above sea level.

Chris, originally from Eastbourne, Sussex, has lived in Spain for more than 30 years and he is no stranger to challenges. The fitness instructor and personal trainer has participated in several Ironman competitions in Marbella.

"I've done some crazy fundraising challenges over the past few years, like carrying a fridge on my back from Puerto Banús to Elviria. I also did a similar triathlon in aid of the Butterfly Children last year, although this was done over three days, so this one will be a little more demanding," the energetic athlete told SUR in English.

Chris, who is working alongside the Somos tu Ola foundation set up to raise money for Sarah, set his sights on a target of 3,000 euros, but he has already reached this total and is now calling on the public to help raise as much money as possible.

Several swimmers and cyclists will also participate, but only Chris and Jansen will endure the entire event, which they say will be "difficult, but worth doing for such a worthy cause".

"We are trying to raise funds for superior prosthetics so that Sarah can walk again and do all the things we all take for granted. Can you imagine that you have no arms or legs and are completely dependent on others? It's a completely shocking thing to happen to someone at such a young age," Chris said.

Sarah's life changed dramatically at the end of July 2018. The 18-year-old was a healthy girl who loved sport, especially swimming and surfing, but after becoming ill with sepsis, surgeons had to amputate her arms and legs in order to save her life. She spent ten days in an induced coma and also suffered kidney damage. However, she remains confident for the future and is hopeful that with a little help from people like Chris and Jansen, she will be able to get on with her life.

"Her situation really hit me because she is academically bright and was into just about every sport before her life was devastated last year. I am convinced that she will go on to inspire so many people because she is determined to succeed and enjoy a normal life again," Chris concluded.

For more information on how to sponsor Chris and Jansen, search 'Trifitmarbella' on Facebook.