Ben, the industry support organisation, offers its services across what it calls the four pillars: Financial, Social, Physical and Mental. For one of their employees, these areas became not just areas of support, but an opportunity for a fundraising endurance challenge.
Dave Garrett recently completed a challenge of 4,000 miles during 2017, 1,000 miles for each of the four pillars. “In November 2016, a set of ‘PRIDE’ [Passionate, Respectful, Inclusive, Driven, Empowered] values were launched for all colleagues working at Ben to underpin its mission of making a positive difference to people’s lives,” says Dave. “I was quite new to the organisation at the time and wanted to do my bit to help launch the PRIDE values, so I decided that a personal challenge would best reflect these whilst at the same time, raise awareness and money for Ben.
“I had a couple of concepts in mind, all with various levels of commitment and effort. After speaking to an old military friend of mine, affectionately known as “Mad Dog” or MD for short, who’s a bit of a dab hand at fundraising and raising awareness, I decided that a challenge of endurance would be worthy of paying attention to, hopefully attract donations as well as offering up a good personal test! I came up with what I considered a straightforward concept which reflected the 4 Pillars, our organisational approach to providing support.”
Dave’s plan was to take each of the pillars and apply them to his task. He therefore added 160 miles to the total 4,000 for the Financial pillar to symbolise debt, inspired colleagues to get involved in a team event (swimming the distance of the channel in a relay format as part of the Industry Leader Challenge) for the Social pillar, undertook as many arduous races as possible, including Ultra marathons and several Swim-Run events for the Physical pillar, and although the entire task could have been considered for the mental support pillar, Dave discovered he’s have to complete many of the remaining miles in the cold, dark and wet of winter.
Dave recounts: “The challenge started well, the first event being Farnborough winter half-marathon. This was followed by the Devizes to Westminster (DW) Canoe Race which is a big event, held annually over the Easter weekend. The preparation involved kayak race training, as well as progressively increasing my kayak distances. I successfully completed the DW with a PB and this coincided with the end of the first Pillar.”
Following this, Dave took on the next challenge of his endurance task. “Following the DW, I entered several challenges in the Swim-Run season. Swim-Run involves open water swimming coupled with progressively longer running. This stage of the challenge was the Social Pillar and to help accomplish the theme, I organised a Ben swim team to coincide with the Industry Leadership Challenge of swimming the distance of the channel but in a relay format. I completed numerous demanding events between late spring and early autumn. Unfortunately, in the last mile of my final Swim- Run race I twisted my ankle which hampered my progress by 6 weeks.
“This put me under quite a lot of pressure to complete the last 2 pillars! It was at this point I ditched my cyclocross bike and invested in a road bike to gain a bit of extra speed, then knuckled down for the remaining miles, managing to complete an average 150 miles per week in the last 12 weeks! I finished the challenge with a 7 mile bike ride at 21:30 on New Year’s Eve!”
Overall, the challenge took Dave 540 hours, or 22.5 days to complete, with his Garmin Fenix 3 GPS watch becoming his most vital piece of kit. “If it wasn’t on the watch then it didn’t happen!” He says. Dave also went through four sets of bike tyres, three pairs of trainers and paddled three different kayaks.
In total he completed:
- 1 Half Marathon
- 1 Ultra Marathon
- 4 Kayak marathons including the DW
- 5 swim-runs
- Over 2700 miles on the bike
- 9 miles of swimming
- Paddled 265 miles
- 665 miles of running
- 430 miles of walking