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BBC Radio 1's Greg James punishing Belfast stage of gruelling Gregathlon for Sport Relief

By Allan Preston

Published 09/02/2016

Radio 1 DJ Greg James braves the chilly waters of Belfast harbour
Radio 1 DJ Greg James braves the chilly waters of Belfast harbour
Warming up before his cycle challenge
Gregg James prepares for his swim
Running past city landmarks
Gregg James sets off on his bike

Radio 1 DJ Greg James conquered the first of five triathlons in Belfast yesterday as part of a mammoth challenge for Sport Relief.

Dubbing the challenge the 'Gregathlon', the 30-year-old DJ braved the icy waters of Belfast harbour first thing yesterday morning for an 800-metre swim.

He then jumped on his bike for a punishing 45-mile ride on Northern Ireland roads.

On a cold and rainy Belfast day he also completed a 10-mile run past Stormont and Belfast City Hall before finishing at BBC Broadcasting House on Ormeau Avenue were he was cheered by delighted fans and pop star Mollie King of The Saturdays.

Yesterday morning the presenger had tucked into a hearty breakfast of eggs and bacon before putting on his wetsuit.

Slipping into the waters in front of Titanic Belfast, a klaxon signalled the start of the gruelling day.

After climbing out of the water from the first part of the challenge he joked "I'm numb", before bursting into song.

Exhausted, he sang his own version of a song by The Weeknd: "I can't feel my face when I've been swimming in open water."

After a quick change into his cycle gear, he added: "Swim has been done, I'm never going back in there ever in my whole life. And now for a little tour of the city, and by little I mean around 45 miles of cycling. So here I go, the cycle and the rain's started. Wish me luck."

Throughout the day his fans were kept up to date on Greg's twitter account.

Keeping his sense of humour he stated: "At the moment, I'm either on a bike, running or squeezing myself into a wetsuit. Regardless, there's chafing involved."

Seven miles into the cycling section of the Gregathlon "a massive pothole" on the Northern Ireland roads caused his tyre to burst.

Venting his frustration on Twitter he wrote: "Gonna be a lonnnnng day."

Taking the pit stop as a moment to reflect he said: "So far this challenge has been very difficult and I know it will get harder."

The DJ's five-day challenge is raising money for Sport Relief, with the money going to help families caught in refugee camps. By yesterday a total of £33,285 had been raised.

He said a recent trip to a refugee camp in Jordan had inspired him.

"I went out there a couple of weeks ago," he said, while waiting for a new tyre. "I met some amazing families who were remarkably normal and just had their whole lives turned upside down by the crisis in Syria."

With little time to recover from the Triathlon's first two stages, Greg just had time to catch his breath. "Tough start to the day but I'm still alive. Just have to do the run now," he said before pretending to scream in agony. After a painful day he finally made it to BBC Broadcasting House on Ormeau Avenue at 4pm.

Waiting for their favourite Radio DJ at the freezing cold of the finishing line were fans Megan Smyth (17) and Sara Ewing (18) who had travelled from Omagh.

"We took the day off school, sacrificed our A-levels just to see him," said Megan.

"We took two hours on the bus, we missed the first one. We didn't know if we would make it."

"He's the best DJ on Radio 1," said Sara.

"He's just so funny. He keeps the country entertained."

Megan said the pair had been following his progress all day on social media.

"He was swimming in 7.5 degrees this morning and then he got punctures on his bike, we really felt sorry for him," she said.

Before going in to present his three-hour Radio 1 programme, the DJ just had time to pose for the cheering crowds for photos with popstar Mollie King. With day one of the Gregathlon over, he now faces the same challenge in Cardiff, Glasgow, Sheffield and Norwich.

It's hoped his endurance will inspire people in Belfast and the other host cities to sign up to walk, run, swim or cycle on the Sport Relief Weekend from Friday, March 18 to Sunday, March 20.

Belfast Telegraph

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