IN PICTURES – ‘It was one of the happiest years of my life’ – Higham Ferrers man completes year-long fitness challenge

Darren’s journey began on January 1, 2023

A local man has finished a year-long fitness challenge, completing daily exercises and trekking around the country and beyond in aid of a breast cancer charity.

Darren Johnson had the idea of completing 10,000m on a Ski Erg and indoor rower every day for 365 days, and has currently raised £6,892 of a £2500 target for Breast Cancer Now.

He said: "I absolutely loved it, every second.

“In the early part of last year when it was dark and cold, there were a few long days at work and I really struggled to get motivated, but the reason I’m doing it stuck in my head and I got though that.

“I was a little bit emotional at the end of it all because I was going to miss it.

"There was no part of it I regret, it was one of the happiest years of my life.

"It’s bittersweet because the reason why I’m doing it was because my family has been up against it.

"My priority was awareness, but the bonus of how much I raised was overwhelming.”

Darren managed a 24-hour ‘stint’ on New Years Eve before the challenge even commenced, beginning the next day, and continuing for the remainder of the calendar year.

His challenge also included a handful of stops at UK landmarks including the Angel of the North, Luton Town Football Club, Wembley Stadium, and even a 3,558ft climb to the top of Snowdon with the rowing machine on his back in what he said was ‘one of the best weekends of my life.’

He also continued the effort while travelling in Canada and New York, stopping off to complete his daily challenge at Niagara Falls.

Over the year, Darren completed 4,049,122 metres (or 2516 miles, roughly from Rushden, to Rome, and back again), with the bulk of the work happening at Unit Fitness in Rushden.

He added: “All the days I wasn’t on the travels I trained there every day, and there was a lot of support from the people there, so I want to show my appreciation.”

The new year is starting as 2023 concluded, as Darren is now undertaking an eight-week training programme ahead of the 2024 World Rowing Indoor Championships in Prague in February. In December 2023, he set a personal best at the British Rowing Indoor Championships.

The total amount raised will go towards Breast Cancer Now’s aim to raise awareness for the condition, which has been an ‘unwanted regular’ in Darren’s life, as multiple family members have battled various forms of cancer.

The JustGiving page is still open to donations, and can be found here.

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