Soldier and fundraiser extraordinaire David Ansell has announced a new challenge which is set to take him an incredible 1,000 days to complete.
David, from Sunderland, who has already raised more than £18,500 for Cancer Research UK, is to embark on a 10-mile walk or run every day for 1,000 consecutive days – or two years, eight months, three weeks and five days.
Beginning on January 4th 2023, he is aiming to finish on September 30th, 2025, by which time he will have covered 10,000 miles.
The Sqn Training Warrant Officer, who serves with The Queen’s Own Yeomanry reservists in Newcastle, became known for his first charity challenge, which saw him complete a half marathon every day for 365 days, finishing in September 2021.
Throughout his fundraising, David has been inspired by his late dad, who died of lung cancer in 2020.
He said his motivation for the latest challenge is to raise more money for Cancer Research UK and help beat cancer sooner.
“I was trying to think of a bigger and more mad idea,” he said. “It will be a mix of me jogging and walking but if people want to join me and don’t want to jog, then we can walk. It’s all about covering the distance of 10 miles per day.”
David has no doubts that he will be able to complete the distance: “I’ve got that stupid mindset that I can go and do it; I know what I’m doing it for.”
He joked that he now has to break the news to his partner Denise who had jokingly threatened to leave him if he extended his original challenge beyond 365 days. In reality, he said that Denise is right behind him.
David thought up his original fundraising feat in 2020 after his dad, also David, was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer.
At first unable to visit, because of the COVID-19 restrictions, when David eventually saw his dad, he was shocked by how much he’d altered: “When I finally got to go and see him, I saw the change and what cancer had done, to make him go from the bubbly person he was to the grey person he became. I wanted to do something to help.”
The idea came to David when he was in a pub, looking at a map and realised that the distance from home in Sunderland to work in Newcastle was about a half marathon. Covering that every day, by walking to or from work, or sometimes following a different route, inspired people to sponsor his efforts.
Sadly, David senior died in October 2020 but he had known about the challenge.
“He said you’re absolutely bonkers but crack on son, I know you can do it,” said David. “I spoke to him a couple of days before he got rushed to hospital and he said to keep going.
“Fifteen days into it, my dad passed away. We were very close and a close family.”
By the time he finished, David had lost 2.5 stone in weight and had upped his daily half marathon pace to 2.5 hours.
“Towards the end, I started getting sore knees but I think it was just changing trainers. I went through 15 or 16 pairs of trainers. It sounds weird but I enjoyed every single moment of it.”
He has since completed the Great North Run and the London Marathon for Cancer Research UK.
David’s fundraising is also inspired by friend and work colleague Dean Ashworth, who died of oesophageal cancer in October 2020 and family friend Chloe Pescod, who underwent a heart transplant and was later diagnosed with post-transplant lymphoma disorder for which she is receiving treatment.
He was a regional fundraiser of the year finalist for the Pride of Britain awards after being nominated by Chloe and her mum, Tracey.
Cancer Research UK spokesperson for the North East Michaela Robinson-Tate said: “We are absolutely delighted but not surprised to hear about David’s latest challenge.
“Knowing how determined he is, we have no doubt he will complete the 10,000 day walk to help fund vital research. We can’t wait to follow his progress and we would like to say thank you and good luck to David.”