Hello everyone, my name is Arthur Connell, I’m married to superstar triathlete and superstar wife, Catherine Connell. As some of you may be aware, Catherine won the ROC triathlon in 2019 and finished in 2nd place in 2021; she’s also won the triple crown.

My achievements haven’t quite matched up to hers, but I did finish 3rd in THE ROC in September 2021 and then completed the race again the following day. I was the only person to complete the double ROC for which I received a lot of kind praise from fellow competitors and spectators. I won my age group in the Abersoch Sprint triathlon mid October and ran a 1hr 26min half marathon at the end of the month in near hurricane conditions on tired legs much in need of some down time.


I had noticed a very small amount of blood in my stools around mid August time (I can’t remember exactly when I first noticed this). My memory of the exact timing is a bit hazy but I think I told my wife about it and she told me to order a faecal immunochemical test (FIT) test via an e-consult. The FIT test is used to detect small amounts of human haemoglobin (a sign of blood) in the stool. I needed a fair bit of reminding to do this as I was convinced that I had nothing to worry about and that the small amount of blood now and again was just haemorrhoids or caused by spending hours on a bike seat etc. How could this possibly be anything serious? I’d won my age group and finished in the top ten overall in the notoriously tough Snowman Legend triathlon held on August the 1st, done well in the double ROC and late season Abersoch events (as mentioned above) and felt invincible. After more persistent encouragement from my wife, I got round to doing the FIT test late October. The test came back positive and two weeks later (13th of November) the colorectal team at Ysbyty Gwynedd found a 5cm tumor, 8cm from my rectum, hanging off the bowel wall. A biopsy was taken on the day and within two weeks both CT and MRI scans had been completed. The presurgical diagnosis and prognosis were that the tumor was malignant but hadn’t grown deep into the bowel wall, no lymph nodes were infected, and the cancer hadn’t spread to other organs, therefore the aim was curative surgery. After surgery, the aforementioned diagnosis and prognosis was confirmed definitively. Due to complications, I ended up in surgery three times (a little bit like doing a swim, bike and run but slightly more painful). All of the staff at Ysbyty Gwynedd worked incredibly hard, I don’t know how they put up with me. I owe my life to my amazing wife, Catherine Connell. I wouldn’t have gone to see the doctor until it was too late, it’s impossible to put my praise into words for all her support.


With the benefit of hindsight, I should have noticed unusual bowel habits developing over the last few years. Between 2018 and 2021 my bowel movements were more frequent and less predictable. I thought this was due to increasing my training hours or due to increased fibre intake etc. My advice would be: if you notice any change in bowel habit or any blood in your stools order a FIT test and get checked out. I don’t want to scare anyone with this post but I know as athletes we get used to pushing through tough times and can always think of a million reasons that our body might be behaving in a certain way. Please pay attention to red flags with regards to your health and remember, even if you can complete the ROC two days in succession it doesn’t mean that you haven’t got stage two bowel cancer.

I’m now living with an ileostomy but have managed by first park run seven weeks after my third surgery. If there is anyone else out there who has a stoma and wants to get in touch to discuss training advice etc then feel free to get in touch with the Sensation Group team who can put you in touch with me.

Thanks for reading my post.