An aspiring Ironman UK contender will join hundreds of cyclists this month as he takes on a mammoth 125 mile challenge.

Steve Nicholls, who works at APS Group’s Chester-based print fulfilment centre, will use North West Cancer Research’s Circle of Hope cycling fundraiser as training for this year’s Ironman UK, hoping to support cancer research as he does so.

The 42-year-old was inspired to sign up to the challenge after losing his friend Pete Holland of Marford in 2012 to bowel cancer. Wanting to give something back and help progress the fight against cancer, he completed his first triathlon in 2013 raising £975 for cancer research.

He has since gone on to complete four sprint triathlons, two duathlons and two half Ironman distance races, all without asking for sponsorship.

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This year will be his biggest challenge to date as he aims to take on a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile cycle and marathon run (26.2 miles) in one day, during this year’s Ironman UK.

Steve hopes to be joined by 15 other friends and cyclists, as he takes on Circle of Hope’s 125mile course on Sunday, May 8, boosting his long distance cycling training.

North West Cancer Research introduced the new route to its existing 50 mile and 100 mile routes this year to offer more experienced cyclists like Steve, an extra challenge.

Pete Holland of Marford with wife Jackie
Pete Holland of Marford with wife Jackie

Steve said: “We lost Pete less than four years ago now. He battled so hard against his cancer for many years, undergoing lots of operations and procedures to help live as long and as happy life as possible.

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“During his illness he never lost his sense of humour and continued as much as possible with his normal life – determine not to let cancer beat him. He was a real inspiration to all who knew him and he inspired me to take on my first ever triathlon in 2013 – a big achievement for me considering I hadn’t done any form of exercise for at least ten years.

“At that time I swam or rather sunk like a fully laden pack horse, but I kept Pete firmly in my mind and got back on the horse again and again. Now I’m in a place where I love the challenges and the opportunities the offer me to remember my good friend.

“I’ve never done anything quite on the scale as Ironman UK though. Training for these kinds of endurance challenges is tough, but I’m hoping that taking part in Circle of Hope will help boost my strength when it comes to the cycling element.

“Cancer unfortunately touches so many of us in so many ways. Since losing Pete, several of my friends, work colleagues and family have been diagnosed with cancer. The more money which can be can be raised to support cancer research the better. It will enable better treatments and help more people survive cancer in the future.

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“I hope as many people as possible – whether they are experienced cyclists or beginners, will come together for the Circle of Hope and join me at the starting line this May.”

Circle of Hope, which takes its name from the village of Hope near Wrexham, has helped to raise more than £70,000 for cancer research projects across the region, since it started in 2006.

Organisers North West Cancer Research hope that 300 cyclists will take part in this year’s event and help raise even more money for cancer research projects based at nearby Bangor University, as well as the University of Liverpool and Lancaster University.

The charity has committed to funding more than £12.3million worth of cancer research over the next five years.

Anne Jackson, CEO North West Cancer Research, said: “What an inspirational story from Steve and we are so glad he will join us at this year’s Circle of Hope, as he prepares for his Ironman challenge later this year.

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“You don’t have to be an Ironman hopeful like Steve to take part though. People of all ages and cycling abilities can get involved as there is a choice routes on offer, which can be completed in your own time.

“It’s not about being the fastest cyclist; it’s about the taking part and helping raise as much money as possible to help find a cure for a disease which has touched so many people in the area.”

North West Cancer Research’s Circle of Hope takes place on Sunday, May 8 and registrations for the 50mile, 100mile or new 125mile routes are now open at

Registration costs £20 and participants are encouraged to pledge a minimum sponsorship of £30.