The challenge I have set myself is to swim the Solent from Gosport to Ryde Sands then when I land at Ryde I will be met by my wife and family, some of whom will be my support crew.  I’ll re-fuel, change clothing and then myself and a good friend will begin a 77 mile ultra-marathon run. The route circumnavigates the island’s coastal path which I have mapped out, with aid stations every 10 to 11 miles. The total elevation for the run is around 1,600 meters. I know I’ll be visiting some very dark places, both physically and mentally, and I’m both equally excited and nervous. 

Map showing Danny

I like open water swimming because I love that fact that I don’t like it.  I know that sounds counter-intuitive but open water swimming scares me. I consider myself a fairly capable swimmer, but my imagination tends to get the better of me. I enjoy the feeling of conquering something I’m afraid of and I never regret a swim; when you switch off, stop and float for a while it does feel quite majestic.

I started open water swimming in 2020 when I entered the “Great East Swim” at Alton Water. It was cancelled because of Covid but I had unfinished business with the 10k marathon swim, so I did it in November 2023 at London Aquatics Centre and finished in 3 hours 53 mins.  

Danny by the Marathon Swims sign in London

Until March 2023 I had gone through phases of running. In October 2017 I completed my first ultra and dipped my proverbial toe into endurance running by clocking up 30 miles in a local endurance challenge. However, due to doing too much too quickly I was awarded some injuries and niggles which made consistency more challenging than the running. I didn’t have the knowledge or discipline to take running seriously by starting slowly and progressing properly until March 2023, when I started working with a proper running coach. Since then my running has been its most consistent and enjoyable as I really have learnt a lot from my coach. 

Training for an event like this requires multiple long distance swims and runs before the main event. I’m working backwards from 29th June, which will be my biggest training session so far. Swimmers have to do a two hour swim in open water to prove that we are capable and I have chosen to do mine at Dover with other swimmers. After that I will get dropped off at Ramsgate and begin a slow run home, around 50 miles. Assuming I’m successful most of the hard work in training will have been done up which should give me a confidence boost.

Danny running

From 2009 to 2021 I was a seven day a week drinker and now I know I had an addiction to alcohol. Two or three bottles of whisky a week was normal for me and I was also a smoker and drug user. I have been happily married to my wife for many years and I have a big family who are very close and loving. I’ve always been a fairly responsible and respectable person, but alcohol and drugs always held me back from being the person I see myself as. I told myself that by the time I’m 40 I will quit it all and 18th July 2021 was my last hangover and comedown. I’ve been tee-total ever since and on 19th April I celebrated my 41st birthday. Quitting alcohol felt like I unlocked time so I became obsessed with my own potential and started putting into action the person I wanted to be. I’ll never drink again and it’s been the single best decision I’ve ever made. I became a better dad, a better husband, a better brother and a better son. 

My fundraising is going amazing so far. I have hit my target but would love to surpass that, and to anybody who reads this who has donated, I want to say thank you so much.  I feel proud to be raising money for people with spinal cord injuries.  My dad has difficulty walking now as he needs two hip operations and has some degenerative spine issues so seeing him not being able to move like he used to does upset me.

Danny standing in the dark

I applied to the Guinness World Records as the first person to complete the swim/run back to back in a certain time, as they don’t have a record of anyone doing it, but according to them the route is “not of international interest” so they declined my application. 
I have lots of future challenges planned. I’m taking part in Swim the Night for which I’ll be swimming one mile every hour on the hour for 12 hours in Hampton open air pool, also an Aspire event. My Mount Rushmore bucket list is to run 100 miles so who knows, maybe after this I’ll look to it for next year. 

I’m looking forward to the adventure of my challenge (not so much the pain), but I know there’s a version of myself that I’ve not met yet and it’s waiting for me. For me, it’s a journey of self-discovery. The money I have raised so far and the potential to raise more is also a huge motivator and the cherry on top!

Sponsor Danny

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