A former Army reservist who was paralysed in a climbing accident has made history by becoming the first person in a wheelchair to complete seven marathons in seven days, across all seven continents.
Darren Edwards was paralysed from the chest down after falling 40ft down a rock face when the ground gave way beneath him in Snowdonia in 2017.
After reaching the top he fell onto a small ledge which broke his back in two places on impact.
He only avoided falling to the ground thanks to a friend, Matt, grabbing him, with Mr Edwards saying he thought he was going to die. He then spent five months in hospital and rehab.
He said: “I didn’t want to be a different person just because I’m in a wheelchair.
“[After the accident] I remember being told about the things I wouldn’t be able to do and how life would never quite be the same, and a lot of these messages were quite negative about what life would look like."
The 32-year-old refused to let his accident keep him from setting records. He took the opportunity to participate in the World Marathon Challenge, where he and 39 others from around the world started the challenge at Novo, a Russian air base in Antarctica, on 31 January before then travelling to Cape Town, Perth, Dubai, Madrid, Fortaleza in Brazil, and Miami.
Since the challenge launched in 2015, Mr Edwards has become the first person to complete it in a wheelchair.
The Shrewsbury man battled temperatures of -20 and winds of up to 60mph.
It took him five hours and 50 minutes to complete the first marathon but he got faster by each race with his last race taking just two-and-a-half hours in a custom-made wheelchair, which was fitted with different tyres depending on the terrain.
The only sleep and food he and the other competitors got were on the flights between continents.
During the challenge, he raised around £50,000 for the Armed Forces Para-Snowsport Team, a charity which helped teach Mr Edwards to ski after his accident.
He said: “From the moment I fell, I was determined that whatever happened, I wouldn’t let it stop me from trying to live the fundamental life I wanted, which was full of challenge and adventure.
“I gave myself 12 months to train, prepare, and really completely change focus to doing a lot of miles on a set of wheels, so it’s been a real rollercoaster journey but my life is as fulfilling and as happy as it ever was.”
“So what I have done in the years that have followed is to try to show a person that might be in a hospital right now, who may be young and active, what is possible when there is hope, and that there is room for aspiration and ambition and to dream.
“The injury has been the start of what’s been the most unexpected journey of my life, the things I’ve done, the person I’m getting married to this year, all of these things have happened, all of these things wouldn’t have happened had that rock not collapsed beneath my feet.”
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