Ultramarathon runner Dennis Potton got more than he bargained for on Saturday when he passed through Sandsend a part of a gruelling 60 mile Hardmoors event.
The 37 year-old from Middlesbrough had stopped at the cafe next to the beach for a drink when he heard children screaming and ended up being the hero of the day.
A young boy was running up the beach shouting for help saying ‘He is drowning’ and when no-one else seemed to be doing anything the dad of four had no hesitation in dashing into the sea fully clothed to drag the boy out of the water.
The water was up to his neck before he got to the youngster, believed to be about ten years-old, but even then it was a struggle to get himself and the youngster to safety as the rip current kept taking his legs from beneath him.
He said: “No one was really moving so I ran to the shore, a woman pointed to where he was and I dropped my bag and went in.
“He was crying his eyes out and really struggling. I picked him up and started walking back in but there was such a strong rip current it kept taking my legs from under me.”
Whitby’s inshore lifeboat was launched and the local coastguard were on the scene closely followed by its specialist rescue helicopter which landed on the beach.
But by the time the lifeboat arrived the young boy had been reunited with his family and was safe and well but was taken to James Cook hospital in the helicopter to be checked over and Mr Potton continued with the run but was hit by the enormity of what had just happened.
“I’m a dad myself and I was just overcome with emotion of how different it could have been – if I hadn’t stopped for that drink I would have been further down the beach and he would probably have drowned.”
He was given a heroes reception when he got to the finish point at Filey, 16 hours after he started in Guisborough and says the adrenaline had kept him going.
Mr Potton added: “News had spread because I had spoken to a man after I got out the sea and he told people at a checkpoint, so everyone knew by the time I arrived. When I finished I was repeatedly sick – the adrenaline had kept me going but I really crashed.
“My wife and children are extremely proud, they are over the moon.”