A Royal Marine from Plymouth is set to become one of only 175 entrants from around the globe to take on this years’ 100 mile Ultra Trail South West competition round the rugged Cornish coast.
As Plymouth becomes the focus of the nation for Armed Forces Day on June 30, Colour Sergeant Darren Handley, 37, who works at RMB Stonehouse will put to the test his months of preparatory training to raise money for the Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund. The run is the equivalent of four non-stop marathons back to back. In his last few training events he has finished extremely competitively – taking 8th place in the South Devon Ultra race after completing 35 miles in a personal best.
He said: “Competing in this race ahead of Armed Forces Day and on home turf in the South West is extremely important to me. Many Marines and service personnel from this region have made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of their country and raising money for them and their dependants through this race will be a real honour.”
The Ultra Trail South West will see runners complete 100 miles from 20 hours through the night any time between 22nd to 24rd June following the South West Coast Path from Porthleven to Watergate Bay. Runners from around the world will jet into Cornwall for next weekend’s event. On average each runner will require 7-8000 calories to push their bodies through the arduous course. Proper preparation is essential for this race as runners will encounter over 6,500 metres of vertical ascent, the equivalent of climbing 1,000 metres beyond Everest base camp. ‘Your pacing strategy is difficult but I’ll be spurred on by all of the supporters on the beach. The hardest part will be at the 70-80 mile point, that’s when the muscles will start to ache. Every Saturday and Sunday I’ve been out doing 25-35 miles. I just did a 50 mile race overnight in preparation on Dartmoor – its been a big strain on my body and also on my very patient family!’ His social life has been put on hold this year as he has been training and competing since January to hit his fundraising target of £5,000. Earlier this year he took on the gruelling Marathon Des Sables coming 13th out of the 250 British competitors to enter the race.
Andrew Barker, Endurancelife Director, said: “If you’re a runner and want to take part in the world’s most iconic mountain race you automatically think of France and the Ultra Trail Mont Blanc. That race attracts 6,000 runners from across the globe with entire villages turning out to line the route and cheer the runners on. The Ultra Trail South West has the same potential to become the world’s most iconic coastal race bringing thousands of international athletes to the region and galvanising local communities along the way.”
Darren has raised £3,500 to date – if you would like to help him reach his target, please visit: www.justgiving.com/darren-handley Darren lives in Plymouth with his wife Tanya and 15yr-old daughter Ella Louise who attends Devonport High School for Girls.
Darren has served in the Royal Marine Commandos for over 18 years, during this time he has served around the world, including numerous operational tours of Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq and most recently Afghanistan. He has lost friends and colleagues to enemy action and has experienced the life-changing injuries of fellow marines who sustain wounds leading to loss of limbs, permanent scarring and other severe injuries.
Darren has witnessed the importance of ongoing aftercare for those unfortunate enough to sustain severe injuries and would like to do something worthwhile to pay back part of the debt we all owe these brave servicemen. The Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund help wounded and injured Royal Marines in any way possible, assist those still serving and facing repeated high threat deployments where required and also assist the families of those unfortunate enough to have made the ultimate sacrifice.
The inaugural Ultra Trail South West will see runners from as far afield as Italy, the USA and Hong Kong. The race is set to become an annual fixture which will move to a different section of the South West coast path each year. Organisers are certain the event will come to rival some of the world’s greatest trail races.
For the full line-up of events at Watergate Bay please visit: http://www.watergatebay.co.uk/events.htm. For more information about the race, or to find out how you can enter, go to: www.endurancelife.com.