Belfast Telegraph

He survived cancer, now Scott is taking on world's toughest mountain bike race

By Amanda Ferguson

The drop-out rate is 50% and there is a chance of encountering bears, rattlesnakes, mountain lions and wolves.

But none of this fazes testicular cancer survivor Scott Harkins, who is set to become the first person from Northern Ireland to compete in the world's toughest mountain bike race.

Following two years of intensive training, the father-of-two is gearing up to start The Great Divide, a 3,000-mile race in Canada, on June 13.

Scott (42) is a Belfast harbour policeman as well as an RNLI lifeboat volunteer in his home town of Bangor.

He has been free of cancer for the past 10 years and has decided to mark the decade by taking on the gruelling off-road race from Banff in Canada to Antelope Wells in New Mexico.

He will also be raising sponsorship, so far sitting at £3,500, for Marie Curie Cancer Care.

"When I was given the all-clear from cancer in 2004 I vowed to do something challenging for a cancer charity," he said.

"This certainly is a challenge but I have trained long and hard and have lots of support from sponsors, family and friends, so a big thank-you to them.

"This month I am 10 years clear of cancer so I want to give something back to Marie Curie for the help they gave me when I was going through my treatment."

A huge challenge lies ahead for Scott.

Competitors climb a total of 200,000ft and they must find shelter each night or camp at the trailside.

Along the course organisers have warned entrants to expect encounters with bears, rattlesnakes, mountain lions and wolves.

"For the first 500 to 600 miles it is imperative I carry bear spray," Scott said.

"It's like pepper spray for bears, but I don't want to be that close to find out."

You can follow Scott's progress on Facebook and Twitter and to make a donation to Marie Curie visit www.teamscottharkins.co.uk

Background

Scott Harkins is taking on the The Great Divide mountain-bike race from Banff in Canada to Antelope Wells in New Mexico. He departs for Canada on Monday, June 9 and begins the race on Friday, June 13.

Scott plans to complete the 3,000-mile race, climbing a total of 200,000ft, in 25 days, while raising vital funds for Marie Curie Cancer Care. More than 100 riders are expected to compete.

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