Meet squaddie Ollie Danvers
Soldier Ollie Danvers set himself a target of racing 22 half Ironmans over 22 days across 22 different cities. Here he explains why
When the Manchester bombings
happened I knew I had to do something to help in some way. I’ve never raised money before but it just felt like my time to do it. I’ve known people who’ve lost their lives on duty. You get a lot of roadside bombs when you’re on tour, but in this case they were just going to a concert. That was what hit me the most, that people lost their children.
I liked the idea of doing something
challenging. I got into triathlon in 2014 through friends as I was looking for a non-contact sport after playing rugby and football. I’ve done sprint triathlons but I’d never done a half Ironman before, and so the 22 idea [for the 22 lives lost on 22 May] was born.
I had three months to organise the
challenge, upping my training distance and daily volume. I only ever ran up to an hour; I didn’t push too hard as I wanted my body to be as fresh as possible going into the 22 days. Being in the army ensures that I have a good base fitness as they run a very good PT programme, which keeps you above the basic level required and allows you to train for a specific sport.
“That was what hit me the most, that people lost their children”
I started on Saturday 5 August
in Norwich and finished on Saturday 26 August in Manchester. Every day I went through highs and lows and learning curves, from suffering up long, steep hills in the rain to singing and dancing on the beachfronts.
The toughest days came in the
first week when my body was getting used to what I was doing, with aches from being out on the bike for three-plus hours. Things start to play on your mind, as you’ve got a lot of time to think.
Day five in Exeter was the hardest,
where my legs and head suffered with the extreme hills. Day 22 in Manchester was the best, I set out to really push myself. I had a few niggles but luckily no real injuries and found my body recovered quicker as the days went on. And no matter how much I was suffering, I knew there were people suffering far more than me in comparison.
I did a three-month tour in the
Falklands in 2015 with the Royal Engineers building new accommodation blocks. It’s a bit of a desolate place, there’s not much growing there but it was better than I thought it was going to be. It’s never easy being away from family but training took my mind off it. There’s an excellent facility that I used daily and I took part in a mixed relay sprint triathlon.
At the moment I don’t intend to
do any more fundraising, I want to spend time with my family. I want to get lots more triathlons under my belt including a stand-alone middle-distance race and, after that, a long-distance race.
OLLIE DANVERS Ollie, 32, is in the Royal Engineers, and is based in Nottingham with partner Gemma and children, Franklin and Darcy. He’s currently raising money for the British Red Cross Society (www. justgiving.com/ fundraising/ 22tris22lives).