One of Scotland’s toughest firefighters has thanked the SFRS for helping him clinch a place in the Ironman World Championships.
Lanark’s Craig Hamilton, 35, is training for the sporting epic in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii in October.
Super-fit Craig will swim 2.4 miles, cycle 112 miles and then run a 26.2 mile marathon alongside the best Ironman triathletes from across the globe.
He said: “It was the Fire Service that put me on this course - and I want to do them proud.”
Craig did not even own a bicycle when he signed up as a firefighter back in 2007.
He was introduced by colleagues to the Bike to Work Scheme and then encouraged by the SFRS triathlon section to start swimming and running.
And Craig, who is based at Easterhouse, has since gone from strength to strength.
He said: “I have never had one day off sick. If you are keeping yourself fit you are able to ward off illness.
“Firefighters have to be at the very top of their game for dealing with major emergencies. It is crucial because we depend on each other - and the public relies on us.”
Craig took on his first Ironman challenge at Barcelona in 2013 and then Lanzarote in 2014.
At Lanzarote, he was part of a 60-man team fielded by the UK Fire and Rescue Triathlon section. He clocked the fastest time in that team, earning him a trophy for Fastest UK Firefighter.
He said: “It felt great to be part of that team. It was like being there with family - and I was very proud to have represented the service.”
He was fully supported by his Easterhouse crew mates when he began training for Ironman 2015 in Arizona.
After swimming across a lake followed by the lengthy desert cycle, Craig hit a time of just 3hrs 13 mins on the marathon section alone to finish fourth - and qualify for the Hawaii Championships.
He said: “You dream about coming over the finish line – but the reality is that you have nothing left to give after so many hours on the course. I was delighted to learn I had earned a place at Hawaii.
“No other Scottish firefighter has made it through to the Ironman Championships so I am very proud of that.”
Craig has been congratulated by Local Senior Officer for Glasgow, George McGrandles.
The LSO said: “This achievement by Craig demonstrates his professionalism, attitude and commitment in not only his role as a professional firefighter but also that of an athlete for the events in which he competes.
“I am sure I speak on behalf of everyone in the service as to how proud we are of his success.
“The Fire Service presents many opportunities through its ‘Healthy Working Lives’ programme for all employees to become involved in social groups and initiatives that support personal fitness and wellbeing. It is evident that Craig took full advantage of this.
“Everyone at the Scottish Fire and Rescue Services wishes Craig the best of luck in his bid to become Ironman World Champion.”
Craig was a pupil at Kirkfieldbank Primary School and then Lanark Grammar.
He still lives in Lanark and does much of his training locally with Lanark Triathlon Club.
All his swimming coaching is carried out by the Triathlon Club using Lanark Pool on Wednesdays, and much of his cycle training is on South Lanarkshire’s rural roads where traffic is quieter.
Craig would encourage anyone interested to join the Triathlon Club - its website is on http://www.lanarktriclub.org.uk
And he also recommends the fire service as a career!
“I would encourage other people to become a firefighter because a career in the service can open up a whole new world. I love my job.” he said.
*To find out how to become a firefighter, visit www.firescotland.gov.uk