A challenge of epic proportions awaits Darren Hardy – 10 Ironmans in 10 cities in 10 days. All in aid of the charity that helped him in his recovery, Help For Heroes. We spoke to the army Veteran and Warrior Games double Gold Medallist to see what inspired him to take on this daunting challenge.
Ribble are proud to support Darren Hardy, Veteran and Warrior Games double Gold Medallist, and his epic 10x10x10 challenge: 10 Ironman’s in 10 days in 10 different locations.
For the 10x10x10, Darren will be swimming 2.4 miles, cycling 112 miles and running 26.2 miles each day to raise funds for Help for Heroes. The challenge starts this Sunday, 18 October. We caught up with Darren just days before the challenge starts.
Darren, we are so excited to be supporting this challenge. It kicks off soon, how are you feeling about it?
I’m feeling grand. I’ve had a really busy week sorting out some last-minute changes but it should all be good. But for me the training isn’t the important part, it’s the mindset. Up until earlier this year, I had never ridden a bike. I then rode almost 800km on an old metal bike as part of another event I challenged myself too. It was during that event, that I wanted to do something bigger.
So I had a 30-second conversation with myself about what I could do – and it went from me asking ‘can I do an Ironman? Yes. Can I do ten in a row? Let’s do it.’
You are no stranger to challenges, what other events have you done?
Earlier this year I paddle-boarded 69 miles from the east coast of Scotland to the west via the Caledonian Canal. Then cycled 484 miles from Fort William to Badbury, Wiltshire, and ended it running to Salisbury. It was partway through that event that I decided I wanted to do something bigger and that’s where the 10x10x10 came. I always just think them up in my head, no plan, just a challenge to myself.
How has your training been?
Well just like the cycling being new to me, I hadn’t actually swum front crawl before, so I have had to learn that quite quickly. I also had my left shoulder replaced after an injury in the military but I know I can do it. The training for this event I guess would have been the event earlier this year.
10 Ironmans in ten days is a huge undertaking, what makes you want to do this?
I was a soldier and officer in the Army for 15 years, but I was discharged on medical grounds in 2017 due to the shoulder injury and having PTSD. So that was a pretty difficult pill to swallow. Then in 2018, the PTSD was really bad.
I was really low, the lowest I had ever been and to be honest I didn’t want to be here anymore. I got help from Help for Heroes and can honestly say that if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be here today.
They made me see that I was good enough. For a long time, I wanted to end it, I grew up without a father until I was 8-years-old when my mum met my dad. And at the time of my struggles with PTSD, I had a daughter so I knew how important it was for her to have a father figure in her life. I will always be grateful for the support I got from them. So I wanted to do everything I can to give back so that they can help others in the position I found myself in.
What does your family think of your challenges?
Gemma, my wife, she just laughs when I come up with an idea. She says I just think up something with no training or equipment and then work out how I will do it. She is very supportive.
And how are you getting on with the Ultra Tri bike?
The Ribble is incredible, a world of difference to the old heavy bike I was using in the last challenge. It feels as light as my mobile phone and changing gear is amazing as it’s so smooth. The last old bike I had used in other challenges was really clunky to change gear. This bike makes me so confident that I will be able to do the challenge. The difference is phenomenal and I am so grateful for the support.
I’m not the fastest rider or athlete in the world, but I want to get the message out there. That if I, at 6’ 1 and 15 stone can do this then others can too (although annoyingly I have lost weight training for this challenge. My mates in the gym are mocking my more slender physique. But if I can talk about mental health then I hope other men feel they can too.
There is a lot of support out there telling us ‘it’s ok not to be ok’ but for me, that didn’t resonate with me. So my outlook is to get a grip of yourself and sort it out because we can’t allow this to take us away from the people around us. For me, doing these challenges and just being outdoors is a huge help. During this challenge, I turn 35 and I will be burning around 100,000 calories so there will be plenty of cake and Guinness at the finish line.
Darren, you finished the challenge. It looked brutal. How was it?
It was a lot harder than I thought it would be and for a lot of reasons out of my control. Trying to do this during a pandemic was tough logistically, so it meant that my focus wasn’t all on the running, riding, and swimming. Realistically, the physical side was the third thing I was thinking about. The first was thinking about how can I logistically do this every day, and the second was getting in enough food to re-fuel after burning 8-10,000 calories every day.
It was such a huge challenge, did you set out what you achieved?
In terms of distance I didn’t complete the full distance as I got hypothermia on the fourth day. Then I also had problems with my Achilles, hip and also got an ear infection.
I was disapoointed I didn’t complete the full distance, but I learned a lot about what success and failure means to me. I still got out every day, and raised money and awareness of the cause, and that ultimately was what I wanted to do.
In total, I covered 6.8 full Ironman distances in total, so I am so grateful for the support from everyone. Maybe I should have chosen to do it in summer with warmer temperatures.
To support Darren’s challenge click HERE.
Have a look at the bike he is using on his 10 Ironmans HERE.
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