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One man, 10 marathons

A former soldier from Fleet who was medically discharged with PTSD is set to run 10 consecutive marathons in 100 hours in a bid to save a young girl from a rare and life-threatening disease.

Darren Hardy, who served in the British Army for 15 years, is aiming to run 236 miles (380km) from Manchester to London on 6 – 10th April before retracing the entire 26.2-mile (42km) route of the London Marathon.

The 36-year-old, from Fleet, said he was inspired to take on the feat to raise money for 13-year-old Aggie Candy-Waters, who suffers from a neurodegenerative condition called H-ABC - a severe form of TUBB4a leukodystrophy.

For Aggie, and thousands like her around the world, there is hope for a treatment, yet without vital fundraising from people like Darren, the worry is that the medications under development will not be ready in time.

“I’m not embarking on this light-heartedly,” he said. “I’m going to need to draw on every ounce of motivation and determination to make it through.

“I am fascinated about testing the limitations of the human body, but this one is going to truly hurt.”

Hardy is no stranger to extreme endurance challenges.

Last year, he ran 131 miles (211km) along the south coast and broke two world records by pulling a car.

He said: “After the south coast challenge I was ruined for months, so that puts the enormity of this into context.”

“Add to this the fact that we are 3 weeks out and I’m getting over a grade two tear in my calf, and that makes this a real battle of mind over matter. I’ve just started to train!”

“I got to know Aggie and her family last year, and we found a deep bond,” Hardy said. “I felt angry and frustrated that more couldn’t be done. The injustice of her condition and the lack of a treatment just hit home.”

“That’s when I found there was hope. There were people around the world working on a treatment, but there just wasn’t the funds to complete it.”

“Ever since then I’ve done whatever I can to help – even putting my body on the line.”

“A massive part of the motivation to get to the finish line is the knowledge that every step I take is helping Aggie and children like her live a longer more fulfilled life.”

As part of his mission, Hardy will also visit three young H-ABC patients, and Oxford-based biotech company SynaptixBio, which is developing the treatment for TUBB4a leukodystrophy.

“Darren is a modern-day superhero,” says Ali Candy Waters, Aggie’s mum. “He’s willing to risk his own health and push his body to the absolute limit - all to help our little girl.

“We really can’t thank him enough, and hope that the country gets behind him.”

Having been medically discharged from the army with PTSD in 2017, Hardy’s mental health saw him on the verge of taking his own life.

Saved by the support of his family and training for ever more extreme physical challenges,

Darren regularly refers to his bid to push human performance further than ever as “his therapy”.


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