This Former Soldier Ran 317km in 92hrs to Raise Money for Children with H-ABC

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Former soldier Darren Hardy ran 7.5 marathons from Manchester to London in a bid to raise £30,000 for children with the neurodegenerative condition H-ABC, a rare genetic disorder that affects the brain.

Hardy formulated the plan after he heard the story of 13-year-old Aggie Candy-Waters who suffers from the rare, life-threatening disease. ‘I got to know Aggie and her family last year, and we found a deep bond,’ says Hardy. ‘I felt angry and frustrated that more couldn’t be done. The injustice of her condition and the lack of treatment just hit home.

‘That’s when I found there was hope. There were people around the world working on a treatment, but there aren’t the funds to complete it.’

At that point, the 36-year-old endurance athlete decided to run 422km in 100 hours in order to raise money into research to find a cure. This included running 380km from Manchester to London, before completing the London Marathon route to finish.

He set off on 6 April, and all began well, and he hit his aim of running 95km in the first day. But stomach issues derailed his second day of running. ‘I was over-using electrolytes and gels and I must have eaten something bad because my stomach took a turn for the worse,’ Hardy told Runner’s World. ‘Then my body just went into a shutdown – shivering and uncontrollable shaking.’

Photo credit: unknown
Photo credit: unknown

He was forced to stop after 65km, putting him behind schedule, but he picked up the pace on day three as he began to feel better, clocking 110km. It was at this point, however, that another more serious problem arose.

‘I was advised to stop due to potential stress fractures in both my tibias and my metatarsals, which was confirmed after the event,’ he says. ‘I’m not built for long-distance running – I’m 6ft 1in, weigh 95kg and have a background in rugby.’

Despite the pain, he was determined to reach London and cross the finish line, even if it was via a shortened route. ‘From that point, my pace reduced drastically to 13 minutes per kilometre. I was crying, which is something I never really do. And I just had to remember the Why – why am I doing this? So I rang Ali, who's Aggie’s mum, and just had a stern word with myself.’

He somehow managed to keep his legs moving and completed 317km in 92 hours. ‘It was quite emotional, thinking about why I did this for Aggie, and there was relief at finishing. But there was also a lot of disappointment, personally, that I wasn't able to move any quicker and finish within the timeframe. But raising awareness of the campaign and raising funds was successful, so I'm proud of that.’

Hardy undertook his challenge with the support of Resilient Nutrition, Precision Fuel & Hydration, Ollie Ollerton’s Battle Ready Fuel, Break-point and Toro Pro. If you would like to donate to the fundraising effort, visit his JustGiving page.

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