My name is Danny J Lavender. From a very young age I was always interested in sport & it was at secondary school that my love for endurance started. I remember doing cross country running and realised as well as enjoying it I was actually quite good at it.
I continued my love of running in order to keep fit and in 1988 I decided to compete in my first half marathon. The following year 1989 I competed in 3 other half marathons and extended my interest in long distance running to another level first to 30 Kilometres in the North Downs Run and then even further to a full marathon which I did in Maidstone. Over the next 3 years I continued to compete in half and full marathons and it was always my dream to do a marathon in less than 3 hours.
My first attempt to run a marathon in under 3 hours was in Helsinki, Finland in 1990 and I recorded a time of 3 hours and 16 minutes. The following year I went back to Helsinki, Finland and improved on my first time and was amazingly close to achieving my dream with a time of 3 hours and 5 minutes. Back on UK soil I did the London Marathon in 1992 in a time of 3 hours , 7 minutes and 30 seconds, a good time by anyone’s standards. My recovery from severe exhaustion was bad I could hardly walk and felt sick, I had pins and needles sensation and then I was sick.
That was the last of my marathons although I continued to compete in half marathons , 10 Kilometre races and other endurances such as the Windmill walk which was 42 Kilometres over the Sussex downs and a 60 mile cycle ride from London to Cambridge in 1993. Up to 2004I had competed in a total of 33 half marathons , 2 x 30 Kilometre runs , 4 marathons and 10 x 10 Kilometre runs.
Between December 1994 and October 1995 I was occupied with other things besides sport and competing, I got married, moved in to my first house and became a father in addition to studying accountancy and qualifying as a tax inspector. So life was sweet.
It was in 2004 that I started to realise that after approximately 6 miles my right leg started to stiffen up and I had to stop. Then whilst running my right arm became stiff and my running technique became uncoordinated. The stiffness extended to my walking as I began to drag my right leg, it was at this point that a work colleague of mine suggested that I needed to see the doctor.
The 23 December 2004 was a definitive day that was to change my life forever. The appointment was at 10.30 am and I woke up that day with a degree of eagerness to know what was wrong with me. I asked Dr Hanna what he thought the problems was – he said I think you have Idiopathic Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease. My stomach dropped. In the following few months I lived in complete denial of its existence.
I was awarded an MBE for services to central government in June 2008.
After reading an article in a National newspaper i got in contact with and subsequently met a very special and inspirational man – Alex Flynn a 37 year old lawyer, adventurer and ultra endurance athlete who had also just been diagnosed with idiopathic young onset Parkinson Disease. He had a vision to cover 10 Million Metres through competitive races and raise a million pounds for his chosen charity – The Cure Parkinson’s Trust to further research and to find a cure for this horrendous disease by doing some amazing feats of endurance. Alex Flynn instilled in me the ethos of channelling my anger and frustration in having Parkinson’s Disease in a positive and rewarding way by undertaking the same journey.
I retired from a very successful career with the Government the day after my 50th birthday on the 20 May 2013 due to ill health. I am now what’s called a yap ( young aged pensioner). My new job title is Extreme endurance athlete, motivational speaker and charity fundraiser.
I achieved charity status on the 5 September 2013 for Beat Parkinsons with the help and kind support of Clarkson, Wright and Jakes Solicitors in Orpington, Kent.
I want to keep my focus, I want to inspire others to reach and achieve their goals in life which they can do with the right mental attitude and pure hard work. I want to be happy and fit and work for my friends and family.
For every success there are always countless failures but you learn from these and experience , wisdom and positivity breed interest. I am finding many hurdles but I am slowly clearing these and creating my unique map which will shape my direction in life’s great adventure.
After nearly 10 years of living with this disease I am a realistic about Parkinson’s. That knowledge makes me more determined to help find a cure by pushing my limits irrespective of what my body tells me they are. To raise awareness and funds towards research that may change the lives of millions. Please help me to help others and together we can make that change a reality.