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Injured Sussex soldier in USA for bike ride
7:30pm Thursday 14th June 2012 in News
A soldier who lost both his legs in an explosion is preparing to race across a continent to raise money for other injured veterans.
Joe Townsend, from Polegate, was serving with the Royal Marines on patrol in Afghanistan in 2008 when he stepped on a landmine.
After countless operations doctors told him he would never walk again.
But the 24-year-old arrived in California this week to join an eight man team on the challenge of a lifetime – the 3,051 mile cycling Race Across America.
Every rider in the Help for Heroes team has been either wounded on operations or injured in training.
Mr Townsend joined the Marines at 17 and was five months into his first tour of Afghanistan when the explosion happened as he led a patrol back to base.
He has competed in many endurance races since his injury, including the Bolton Iron Man last year, which he completed in just 12 hours.
Because of his injuries he uses a hand bike, pumping the pedals round with his hands.
He said: “The race will be an extreme challenge for the whole team but we have trained hard and are looking forward to it.
“Help for Heroes has sponsored me to enable me to compete as an athlete at an international event and it’s good to be able to give something back and |help inspire others to achieve their goals.”
The team aims to cross the USA in just eight days, cycling 350 to 500 miles per day and racing non-stop over a distance which is a third longer than the Tour de France.
They will be competing against both professional and amateur cyclists, but their main competition will be a team of wounded US Servicemen – Team4Mil.
The racers are raising money for Help for Heroes to give back support to other wounded servicemen and women.
Text RAAM to 70900 to donate £5 or leave your message of support and donation at www.bmycharity.com/battlebackraam2012.