HE has conquered ‘The Wall’ – and now our director of sailing Danny Watson has his sights set on next year and what he is going to do to end a series of annual challenges, which have raised thousands of pounds for charity.
Danny finished an impressive 37th out of 830 competitors in the 2019 UK ultra-marathon. Called ‘The Wall’ because it follows Hadrian’s Wall, the event takes in 69-miles under foot between Carlisle and Newcastle. With an allowed time for competitors to complete being 26 hours, Danny did it in 13 hours, 30 minutes and four seconds, starting at 7am on Saturday, June 15.
In six years of challenges, which have included marathons, epic cycle rides and an Ironman event, this was Danny’s biggest test yet and was a calculated build-up as he progresses to his final and ultimate event next year, which is currently still in the planning stage but promises to be huge in what will be his 50th birthday year.
“Over the six years there has been a progression plan, which has tested my mental and physical ability and set me up for the future,” he says.
For ‘The Wall’, Danny set himself a calculated strategy and he stuck to it, despite his competitive nature tempting him to break away.
“I made a plan to run the flat and downhill sections and walk the inclines. From an ego point of view it was hard to see fellow competitors running past but I stuck to it and what I noticed was I reached the tops of the hills, fresher and found myself cruising past the others who needed to recover,” he explained.
“Turning the run on its head in that way, you actually started to look forward to the hills, which mentally was a very good thing,” he added.
With his family cheering him on, there was opportunity for refuel stops and Danny took them. Following a plant-based diet, he was armed with Trek, Huel and High 5 Energy Gels and SIS electrolytes, along with plenty of water. Hitting obvious barriers at certain stages, particularly in the second half, it was Danny’s preparation and mental strength that kept him going.
“It does all become a blur but what you have to do is get into that ‘flow state’ of mind where you are so deeply involved in the task that the action becomes automatic and puts you just above the challenge you are facing. You are not running fast but going at a pace that feels smooth and therefore you are not trying to force one foot in front of the other,” he said.
“While my target was to simply complete, I set out knowing I would be delighted with a time of 16-hours, which would have got me back in time for last orders! The fact that I completed The Wall in the time I did re-assures me of my ability to go forward in 2020 with planning my last and ultimate test, details of which will be released later this year,” added Danny.
All his challenges have been to raise money for CatZero and other charities close to his heart. So far completing ‘The Wall’ has seen him raise around £5,000 and he is asking for more donations which will go to CatZero and MIND. That means the total raised over the six years has surpassed £80,000.
The link to Danny’s Virgin Giving page for The Wall challenge is https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/DannyWatson