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Vango Ambassador and Mental Health Speaker, Darren Hardy Inspires Us During Lockdown
In January 2020, Darren tackled the coldest and toughest ultra in the world; a 300-mile, self-sufficient race over the Yukon Arctic in temperatures as low as minus 50 degrees
Vango Ambassador Darren Hardy, From Soldier to Training Instructor to Overcoming PTSD
Through his exceptional leadership skills as a Soldier in the British Army, where he was also a Physical Training Instructor ensuring soldiers were ‘fit to fight’, Darren received a recommendation for Her Majesty The Queen’s Commission and became a Captain at the age of 29 before being medically discharged with physical and mental injuries received during the Iraq war.
Darren went on to become a Gold Medallist and record breaker representing Team UK in the Warrior Games 2018 in the 100m and 200m sprint.
Darren overcomes his PTSD by getting out into the great outdoors, doing regular physical exercise and has been keeping on top if his fitness during lockdown.
Darren also delivers motivational speaking across the UK, and Vango are proud to have him as a friend of the brand.
Darren's Yukon Arctic Challenge
In January 2020, Darren tackled the coldest and toughest ultra in the world; a 300 mile, self-sufficient race over the Yukon Arctic in temperatures as low as minus 50 degrees.
"Two of the most important factors to take into consideration on this expedition is your fuel and your feet. This is mainly due to the sub-zero temperatures and these are essential for survival. MOVE - FIGHT – SURVIVE”
Darren was fuelled by, dry food brand, Firepot because of 2 reasons:
- It's easy to consume on the move. No need for a 'spork' as you can open one corner and squeeze into your mouth (this also warms the lips that helps prevent frostbite). Stopping is a risk in these temperatures due to hypothermia, so moving whilst eating this high calorie food is key to survival.
- When you add the boiling water to the food, it takes 15 mins before it is ready to consume. Most people will see this as a negative, but it was a real popsitive in the conditions I was in, as I used it as a 'hot water bottle' down the front of my jacket. Again this is a means of survival to help stop the body going into a hypothermic rest.
Keeping my extremeties warm was vital in the cold condtions I faced, and Vango introduced me to Teko socks, warm eco-merino wool socks, making an excellent base layer.
- Base Layer - Teko Merino Liner Socks were able to keep the temperature regulation right in my feet, this is important to stop the feet over heating and causing friction rubs, blisters or worse, trench foot.
- Over Layer - Teko Expedition Merino Socks Extra Heavy Cushion provided me with the warmth needed to stop frostbite which is one of the most common cold injuries in this event and is notorious for claiming toes. Being able to pull them up to the knee line offers the extra protection from the elements on the shins that has little protection from the body's own fat.
The Thermocore Mat is a life saver. The air between the material offers a top R-Rating which is key to survival. In the sub-zero temperatures, you lose so much body heat into the ground that could result in severe hypothermia that will lead to life threatening circumstances. This mat radiates the body heat lost back into your body to allow you to stay warm and comfortable at night.
Weight 0.74kg seems heavy but, the need for survival is greater than the weight. I wouldn’t use any other mat on the market.
Planning Future Adventures Gives Us Hope
The Yukon Arctic adventure is the toughest event that I have ever participated in, and I am proud of what I achieved, both physically and mentally.
I look forward to future adventures, that’s what keeps me motivated right now and I set myself fitness goals and challenges during lockdown to keep up my mental and physical fitness levels.
I think it gives us hope, to plan for the next adventure, no matter how big or small or how close to home that may be. One thing that is clear during this difficult time, there is a little piece of adventure in everyone.
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