On a personal level, Darren and Alex both strive to find ways to challenge themselves and to prove that we are all capable of more than perhaps we believe. This challenge will undoubtedly push them both to and, more than likely, beyond their limits physically and mentally in an arena that is as unforgiving as it is breathtaking.
As well as a personal challenge, it will provide us with the perfect platform from which to raise much needed funds for two very worthy charities (The Cure Parkinson’s Trust and The Firefighters Charity), as well as raising vital awareness of Parkinson’s. This is something that is very close to their hearts, as Alex was diagnosed with the condition in 2008, aged just 36 years old.
Mother Nature will undoubtedly test Darren and Alex en route as they take two hour shifts on the oars. That’s two hours rowing followed by two hours rest, 24 hours a day, every day, for as long as it takes to reach the finish line in Hawaii.
Darren was born in Oxfordshire but left the UK at the age of 18 to go travelling. After spending three weeks in Thailand, he went to Australia where he went straight into hospital for two months with malaria. After finally being given the all clear to start his travels again, he managed to find a private yacht that was sailing back to the UK. He cashed in his flight, stepped aboard and started an 18 month voyage home.
This was the start of a love for the sea. Upon arriving in England, he was soon off again… He found a job teaching people how to sail in Spain and the Balearic islands. After that, he ended up buying a traditional Gulet sailing boat in Turkey and taking people out on charter holidays. When there were no passengers, he delivered yachts all over the Eastern Mediterranean.
Three years later he moved back to the UK taking on varied jobs, before joining Oxfordshire Fire And Rescue service as a Firefighter nearly seven years ago. He has been there ever since.
Reasons for wanting to take part in the Great Pacific Race 2014:
“I miss the purity of being out in the open Ocean. Things are a lot simpler when you concentrate everything down to just making it to your destination.
“There is also the desire to prove to myself that I can do this, and to show people that we are all capable of so much more than society would have us believe these days.
“Then there is Alex, his drive and determination are infectious. He is battling to make people aware of the link between exercise and the benefits that it can give to people who are living with Parkinson’s. How often are you given the opportunity to take part in something that could quite conceivably improve the lives of thousands of people across the world? How can I not want to be a part of that?”
Alex is also an Oxfordshire boy and first met Darren at school. A former lawyer, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2008. This became a catalyst in his life; a catalyst for showing people the possibility of creating positive change in the face of adversity.
Normally you’ll find me doing some of the more complex, unexpected and, more often than not, dangerous challenges across the planet to raise awareness and hopefully more than £1 million towards vital research towards a cure for this disease.
Projects and events:
Alex is currently racing 10MillionMetres around the world for charity. Notable races include but are not limited to:
2012 Trans-America Challenge: a 3,256 mile traverse of the United States using four different disciplines in 35 days
2011 Trans-Europe: 1,457 mile traverse of Europe in 2011 between London, Brussels, Paris and Rome in 30 days. Alex ran the first 20 marathons of this distance in 10 days.
Further information can be found at www.alexflynn.co.uk
Reason for wanting to row from Monterey Bay to Honolulu:
My reason behind wanting to take part in the Ocean Wave Pacific Rowing Race is that it will truly be outside my comfort zone. I’m an experienced adventurer and athlete but this is completely new to me in every sense and, quite simply, epic! It will certainly pose a huge challenge; perhaps the biggest of my life.
Darren and I aim to complete the race and use every ounce of effort to come first. In so doing, I hope to inspire others, even those without neurological disease, that they can challenge themselves and achieve their goals irrespective of the cards that have been dealt in life.