Bath student competes to be greenest ever Ironman

A University of Bath student is aiming to become the greenest ever Ironman when he competes in the Barcelona Challenge triathlon on Sunday 4 October.

Jon Alexander will set aside conventional sports gear for the gruelling event, aiming to cycle 112 miles on a bike made from bamboo, run 26.2 miles in shoes made from recycled fibres and swim 2.4 miles in an eco-friendly limestone based rubber wetsuit.

Jon, 27, hopes to motivate more athletes to get involved in the environmental movement and more sports companies to take a greener approach.

Jon rowed for Great Britain at under-23 level and has completed four marathons. He hopes to complete his first triathlon in under 12 hours.

Jon said: "I believe all athletes are environmentalists at heart, if you define environmentalists as people who love the natural world. But we fly all over the world, we burn through a load of food, and we use a huge amount of specialist gear - all without really appreciating what we're doing to the places where we love to train. We don't even put pressure on suppliers. I've found a couple of small companies who are doing things differently but there's real lack of take-up in the sports world."

He's keen to point out that he doesn't feel his green approach will compromise his performance and says that bamboo bikes have even been shown by several US athletes to improve performance over a long ride.

Jon is studying a part-time MSc in Responsibility & Business Practice at the University's School of Management and credits the course with giving him the belief that he could take on the challenge.

"The nature of the course encourages you to get out there and experiment, to see where things lead. There's a real 'can do' spirit and everyone on the course has been really supportive."

Jon works for a London-based advertising company and is using the knowledge gained on his course to use marketing budgets in new and interesting ways.

He has put together a comprehensive approach to his green campaign, including a vegetarian diet based around an organic vegetable box scheme, designed to cut his carbon footprint and food miles, and plans to travel to the event by train to avoid the high carbon emissions of going by plane.

While on campus he has run Bath's Skyline and swum at the University's Sports Training Village. He has also cycled to his studies from his home in London along the Kennet and Avon Canal.

Jon is raising funds for the Wilderness Foundation, a charity which works to use wilderness experiences to help young people develop an emotional connection with the natural world.

For more information please visit Jon's blog.

Next month Jon will meet Sweden's Deputy Prime Minister, Maud Olofsson, to receive first prize in The Ashridge Sustainable Innovation Award for his essay about how organisations can innovate to create value from the shift to a low carbon economy.

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