A FITNESS fanatic from Gourock completed a gruelling ironman challenge and raised over £5,000 for mental health charities.

Ricky Long took on a 1.9km swim, a 90km bike ride and a 21.1km run to raise vital funds for 'City Hall to Summit' and 'Make Minds Move' - charities which support survivors of suicide and those with mental health problems.

The Gourockian, originally from Northern Ireland, completed the challenge to coincide with World Mental Health Day.

Ricky, a personal trainer, podcaster and author, wanted to raise awareness of how one in four people suffer with mental health issues.

The 34-year-old said: "I swam Loch Thom, cycled to Largs and back twice and ran from Gourock to Inverkip and back twice before doing laps of the Esplanade to make up the miles.

"I had great support from my friend Marion Monk who kept me going and my girlfriend, Lyndsey Morrison, was keeping everyone updated on social media throughout the day.

"There's such a focus on Covid-19 deaths at the moment, but suicide remains the biggest killer of men under the age of 45 in the UK and Ireland, so I really wanted to raise awareness of that."

Ricky is already looking ahead at participating in the Cork Ironman challenge in 2021, however plans to do other sporting events to raise money and awareness for charities in the meantime.

He added: "I really enjoyed the challenge, especially the swim as that's my sport.

"The first two hours on the bike were fine but I think I almost lost the relationship with my feet at the latter part!

"It was the same with the run - I completed most of it in great time and then the last two kilometres took me 20 minutes."

Ricky's online fundraising page is still open and donations can be made at bit.ly/3jBuK83