Introducing London Pride’s marathon runner Danny Bent
Danny Bent, one of The Independent’s 100 Happiest People in the UK and one of the 50 most inspirational people in London, will represent London Pride while running the Virgin Money London Marathon for 2019.
Danny is an award-winning author and journalist, world record holder, adventurer and community leader. Motivating people to be the best version of themselves is Danny’s passion and vocation.
As the founder of both Project Awesome and The London Relay, Danny attributes London with being the city where all his ideas were born and where he tapped into his true potential.
Read on to find out more about Danny and how he is helping to change lives through sport.
Introducing Danny Bent
Danny’s desire to help people through sport started at an early age. When he was 11 years old he told one of his teachers that he wanted to cycle around the world for charity when he grew up.
He did a version of that nine years ago on his 31st birthday, when he cycled 9,000 miles from London to India. During his journey he overcame numerous challenges, including being held at gunpoint, waking up with maggots in his beard and even being held in a Pakistan prison.
“It’s at times like that where you have a choice – you either call it quits, or you find a way to overcome that challenge and move forward,” Danny said.
The Boston Marathon Bombings
Another example of Danny helping people through sport was when he organised a relay to raise money for people affected by the Boston Marathon bombings.
“People died at the finish line – people lost their limbs. I wanted to do something about it,” he said.
“A friend and I had just been on a run and were sitting and talking about what we could do to help, and the idea to do a relay to raise money for those affected by the bombings was born.”
Danny set up and founded One Run For Boston, a 3328.2 mile relay run across the US, finishing in Boston, to raise money for the people affected.
“We needed 300 runners and hoped to raise a few thousand pounds to help the lives that had been changed forever by the bombings. What happened next was unbelievable – rather than getting hundreds of runners signed up we got thousands and by the time we finished we raised $100,000.
“We ran the relay twice – by the end of the second relay we’d raised over $500,000.”
Danny said the most memorable moment was that one of the survivors finished the relay in his wheelchair.
“The bombings happened just 11 weeks prior, and he was back at the spot where he received the blast and lost his limbs. He finished the relay and got to pass the finish line. Afterwards, he looked at me and said ‘Dan, this is when I begin to heal’. I think that shows what your small ideas can achieve, and what you can do to help people.”
Continuing his passion for bringing people together through sport, Danny founded Project Awesome in August 2014 – a positive community fitness group offering high-energy exercise classes to Londoners for free.
“Project Awesome is a fitness movement that I started to create a fitness community that was social, welcoming and free to everyone. It promotes physical wellbeing and so many life-changing stories have come out of it. Time magazine even said we were doing more for mental health than most organisations in London.
“I love doing sport and helping a community come together for a greater good. That’s where the real magic is.”
The London Relay
In April 2018 The Greater London Authority (GLA) asked Danny how sports could be used to tackle London’s growing homelessness and break down the growing gang culture.
“Lots of people were getting killed. I told them about the relay we did in the US for the people affected by the Boston Marathon bombings and how it was a great way to break down barriers with all types of people. They liked the idea, so we started planning the London Relay.”
The London Relay was 4,000 miles, 30 days and nights, 2,500 runners and one baton – a new world record that raised £50,000 for charity and brought the community together.
“There were people of all backgrounds, cultures and ethnicities, including refugees and gang members – all spreading messages of unity and coming together.”
The London Marathon
Danny has run in the London Marathon twice before – the first time was when he was 21 years old, and the second was in 2003 with his mum, dad and two sisters. This year, he will be running with pride on London Pride’s team.
“I love running. Everyone can run if they’re physically able, and you don’t need equipment or a hall to make it happen. Running is when I do my soul searching and it’s such a strong part of who I am, so to be invited to be part of London Pride’s team to run in the London Marathon was huge for me.”
Danny said his biggest challenge for training for the Virgin Money London Marathon is finding the time for training.
“Your training is the first thing to go when things get crazy, so making the time for running is often the hardest part. Also, I’m 40 this year so injuries are a bit more frequent.
“My aim is to beat my PB from when I ran the London Marathon the first time at 21 years old, which was three hours and 17 minutes. Is it possible to beat a personal best set by your 21-year-old self when you’re 40? I guess I’ll find out!”
When asked what it’s like to run the London Marathon, Danny likened it to a film premier.
“It’s like being on the red carpet. Everyone is cheering for you and you feel like you’re part of something so big. It’s truly an amazing experience.
“For those running in the London Marathon, remember to have fun. Even arriving at the start line is an achievement, and don’t put too much pressure on yourself to finish under your target time. If you don’t get the time you want, you’ve still just run a marathon, and 26.2 miles is worth celebrating!
“I’ll be celebrating with a pint of London Pride, of course!”
Hear more of Danny’s stories at his upcoming events
Danny will be doing three FREE talks at three Fuller’s pubs in London in April.
Come along for an evening full of positive vibes and inspiring stories. Admission is free, but we do ask that you get your ticket through one of the links below to ensure your spot.
The talks will be raising money for our charity partner Special Olympics Great Britain, so donations are warmly welcomed at these events.
Danny's upcoming talks are:
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This article was written by Janelle of ContentQueen.