Veteran Darren Hardy started an epic challenge on Monday 17 August, travelling 933km by paddleboard, bike and running, all to raise funds for Help for Heroes in order to support wounded and sick veterans and their families.
He paddleboarded 112km from the East to West Coast of Scotland via the Caledonian Canal.
He will then be cycling 779km from Fort William to Badbury and will run a marathon to Tedworth House, near Salisbury – Help for Heroes’ recovery centre in the South.
The 34-year-old former soldier spent 15 years in the British Army from 2003 to 2017, serving in Northern Ireland and Iraq, with multiple exercises overseas, from Poland to Canada.
His experiences left a lasting impact on him, including a seriously injured shoulder and he has been diagnosed with PTSD.
Sport and training have become a big part of Darren’s life as part of his recovery after he was medically discharged, from becoming a double gold medallist and Warrior Games record breaker to taking on a number of extreme endurance challenges to push himself physically and mentally.
These extreme challenges are Darren’s way of creating a focus point that enables him to better manage his PTSD as he plans and executes them, so he always has another big event on his horizon.
Darren, who is from Fleet in Hampshire, says:
“I wouldn’t be here now if it wasn’t for the help and support I got from the Help for Heroes Hidden Wounds team for my PTSD.
“I now want to give back and have a purpose in life.
“I know that this event will test me to my limits both physically and mentally, but I want to make a difference, inspire and change the lives of others that are less capable or can’t change it themselves.
“I want them to live life to the fullest every single day.”
Married and with two daughters, as well as doing extreme challenges he is an inspirational speaker who is keen on helping others with mental health issues.
“My injuries impact on my life every day.
“I have now created a bulletproof mindset where I wake up at either 0320 or 0420 and seize the day by extreme physical training.
“Pushing myself physically also helps my mental wellbeing, so I want to motivate others to do the same so they can feel the benefits for themselves.
“If I can help just one person then I have achieved a small goal.”
The full itinerary of Darren’s 933km challenge is as follows:
Day 1 (17 Aug) Paddleboard – from Inverness to Inverfarigaig
Day 2 (18 Aug) Paddleboard – Inverfarigaig (down Loch Ness!) to Aberchalder
Day 3 (19 Aug) Paddleboard – Aberchalder to Fort William
Day 4 (20 Aug) Bike – Fort William to Lesmahagow
Day 5 (21 Aug) Bike – Lesmahagow to Kendal
Day 6 (22 Aug) Bike – Kendal to Stafford
Day 7 (23 Aug) Bike – Stafford to Badbury
Day 8 (24 Aug) Run – Badbury to Tedworth House
However, this is just a warm up for his second challenge – called 10 x 10 x 10 – when he will attempt 10 Iron distance triathlons (2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile run) in 10 days in 10 different locations around the UK.
He is hoping to secure two world records in the process.
David Martin, Head of Supporter Fundraising at Help for Heroes, comments:
“We’re so grateful for what Darren is doing for us – not one, but two incredible challenges!
“Research we’ve carried out shows there’s been a big increase in veterans telling us that they aren’t managing their mental and physical health so well since the start of the pandemic, so the need for support is greater than ever, but we’re also having to manage a 40% drop in income at the same time.
“Darren knows first-hand how important our support can be, and it’s wonderful that he’s giving back in this way to ensure we can continue to support other veterans in need.”