Carl's big birthday charity challenge

25 May 2017
Turning 50 is a landmark birthday – but Carl Sugden has no party celebrations planned. Instead he is tackling a series of sporting challenges to raise money for Martin House .

Carl, head teacher at King James’ School in Knaresborough, is marking his 50th birthday in 2017 with a ‘Challenge 17’, which will see him complete 500 miles of competitive cycling, 22 miles of open water swimming and 65 miles of running in 17 events throughout the year.

He is completing the challenge to raise money for Martin House and Save Babies UK.

Carl and wife Claire’s daughter Evie was born in 2001 with Krabbe disease, a progressive genetic disorder which affects the central nervous system, and died shortly before her first birthday and were supported by Martin House.

Carl said: “Evie would have been 16 this year, and obviously we remain grateful for the care she received at Martin House, so this is a chance to give something back. As I’m turning 50, and I’m not one for having parties or moping around about it, I came up with the idea of doing 17 challenges for 2017.”

Among the challenges Carl will be completing are six triathlons, a coast-to-coast cycle ride, open water swimming events and cross-country runs, mostly in North Yorkshire, the Lake District and Scotland.
Carl will also be joined by his son Theo, 12, for a climb in the Scottish Highlands in August.

He said: “There are 282 Scottish mountains over 3,000ft, called Munros, and it’s considered a lifetime challenge to climb them. I’ve climbed 281, but I’ve been saving the last one so I could do it with my son when he was old enough. So my last Munro will be his first.”

While Carl is an experienced triathlete, he isn’t underestimating the scale of the challenge. “Helvellyn triathlon will be the toughest, but I’ve done it a couple of times before, so I know what to expect,” he said.

“In themselves each challenge is difficult, but when you put it together it’s a reasonably impressive list. I’m not a good runner, so those will be tough, but I’m really into the swimming, and there are some really nice 4km swims, and those are the ones I’ll be most at home with.”

Carl will be taking it easy for his birthday on June 22, as it is bookended by two of his challenges – Kendal Sportive Cycle Ride on June 18 and the Lake District Triathlon on June 25.

The money raised will be split equally between Martin House and Save Babies UK, a charity set up by Carl’s mother-in-law after Evie’s death, to support families affected by Krabbe disease and raise awareness of screening for genetic conditions.

Carl said: “Martin House helped with Evie’s end of life care, Save Babies UK was founded to get better genetic screening before birth.

“There was a one in four chance of our other children, Theo and Ella, who’s 14, having the same condition. Thankfully they are healthy, happy children, but that’s why I’m doing it.”

Carl has launched a blog to chart his progress at you can sponsor him at his fundraising page Visit to learn more about Save Babies UK.