A man who completed 22 Olympic distance triathlons in one week in support of a knife crime charity is officially a world record breaker.
Mark Jones, 44, finished the 22 triathlons, which each consist of a 1500m swim, a 40k bike and 10k run, late on Sunday, July 24 in Windsor.
The record-breaking challenge was completed by Mark in honour of his brother Steven who was 23 years old when he was killed in a gang-related knife attack in Croydon fifteen years ago.
Steven’s death “tore the family apart” and so Mark “wanted to do something special in his memory”.
He received the Guinness World Record certificate through his door on October 18 and has also received additional copies for his mum and his chosen charity, Steel Warriors.
The award reads: “The most standards triathlon distances completed in one week (male) is 22 and was achieved by Mark Jones (UK) in Windsor, UK on 18-24 July 2022).
Mark said: “I am just a normal man; I go to work to earn a living and I try to help others when I can.
“I wanted to do this challenge for my brother and to raise awareness of the huge loss and damage caused to families by knife crime.
“So many kids get into situations they don’t know how to get out of and they believe that carrying a knife shows they’re tough and think that it will protect them.
“So often it goes wrong and they and others get hurt and killed. It is no way to live.”
Mark was the second of five children, all boys, who grew up in Croydon on a local authority housing estate where criminal activity was rife, including gang-related violence and drug dealing.
His family “have never come to terms with Steven’s death” and Mark, who was present at the attack, has struggled with his mental health since.
So far Mark has raised £2,500 so far for Steel Warriors, who take seized and surrendered knives from London’s streets, melt them down, and recycle the steel into free outdoor calisthenics gyms.
These spaces are used as community hubs and training centres to support disadvantaged young people.
They have plans to have a free gym installed in Wandle Park in memory of Steven, but Mark and Steel Warriors will need to raise approximately £45,000.
Mark told Your Local Guardian that there were more fundraising efforts being planned to try and gain the funds to make more of these free gyms.
He said: “This does not stop here – there is still more work to be done.
“These street gyms allow them to toughen up physically and mentally in a safe and healthy space and give them a positive focus in life.
“It’s such a great initiative and I am proud to support Steel Warriors.”
Marks wife Jane and her daughter Connie supported Mark throughout his week-long challenge and are incredibly proud of his achievement.
Jane described his achievement as “remarkable and inspirational” and described him as a “fighter, a battler and a very special man who always looks to turn problems into opportunities and to help and support others with their aims”.
Mark and Steven’s mum, Carol added: “Nothing will ever make up for us losing Steven so early in his life.
“His death tore our family apart and we still think about and miss him every day.
“What Mark has done in honour of Steven, the days and months and years of training to prepare himself to complete this challenge, is simply magnificent.
“I am so proud of him and I am thrilled to have a copy of his Guinness World Record up on my wall at home. It means so much.”
Ben Wintour, Founding Director of Steel Warriors said: “Mark is an incredible ambassador for our charity.
“He’s never had anything handed to him on a plate, quite the opposite, and my goodness he knows what hard work is.
“Mark has shown that anything is possible, whatever background you come from, if you set your mind to it.
“I hope this inspires other people who perhaps aren’t content with their lives or who aren’t following a safe and heathy path, to set their hearts on a goal and achieve something positive and then go on to live better, stronger lives.”