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Total Fitness members attempt Guinness World Record

For most of us, the thought of running or even walking a marathon seems like a tough and effortful challenge – but imagine travelling that distance whilst pulling a 1.5 tonne truck… 

Attempting to break the Guinness World Record, Total Fitness Preston members, Dan Callaghan, and John Darwen, alongside James Baker, will each be strapped to a vehicle that weighs 1.5 tonnes and given a 24-hour period to try and go beyond the 30-mile mark, but there can only be one winner. 

With the record currently set at 22.1 miles, the trio will be put through their paces as they battle it out to see who can go the distance on 25th August.  

We caught up with the team to delve behind the scenes at their motivations, challenges, and comprehensive training routine as they prepare for this challenge of endurance. 

Tell us about what motivated you to attempt this challenge

Dan: John and James hold the current record, set at 22.1 miles. When they took part in the challenge last year, I went to support them and it really inspired me, so when they asked me to join them on their next attempt it seemed like a good idea. My driving force for taking part is to raise money for charity – I lost my sister to cancer 5 years ago, so it’s a cause close to my heart. 

John: Our aim is to raise as much money and awareness as possible for our two fantastic charities, Cancer Research UK, and Redeeming our Communities (ROC). 

When I was just 17, I was diagnosed with Leukaemia and went through 3 years of life-saving chemo. I’ve been cancer-free for 12 years now, which feels incredible, and it has driven me to try and achieve my full potential and try the impossible – especially when it gives me an opportunity to give back to those that helped save my life all those years ago. 

James: Redeeming Our Communities is a community engagement charity based in Manchester that is impacting towns and cities across the country – they support people who are unemployed to build their skills and confidence to help them back into work. Each year I would normally put on my running shoes and attempt a half or full marathon to raise money for the charity, but a few years ago John and I wanted to do something different, something that combined both strength and endurance to push us out of our comfort zone.   

How have you been training to pull 1.5 tonnes for such a long time/distance?

Dan: It’s been a mix of strong man training and endurance – featuring lots of compound movements, sled pulls/pushes in the gym alongside fortnightly practice van pulls to get us used to the actual motion and weight. 

John: As someone who currently holds the record, I’ve been training for events like this for 2.5 years now. I’ve learnt and grown so much in that time in both physically and my personality too. 

In the last 6 months, we’ve been incorporating three main training stages: strength development, muscle hypertrophy (the growth and increase of the size of muscle cells often associated with weight training), and endurance. We’ve taken a whole-body approach to training – even though the challenge itself will primarily target the legs – it's important that we strengthen all the muscles likely to be engaged throughout the challenge.  

James: The training around the van pull has included a good mix of cardio and strength throughout. We’re currently in the endurance phase, as we get closer to the event itself – this is a really important step as we want to make the most of the day and push ourselves.  

Are there specific pieces of gym equipment or exercise you would recommend for training for such a challenge? 

Dan: For me, some of the most frequently used exercises are a mixture of sled pulls and deadlifts.  

John: Like Dan, sled pulls, deadlifts and back squats have been a regular on the training routine. Due to it being an endurance challenge, the stepper and treadmill would be up there with the most used gym equipment. 

James: It feels like every day is leg day...We’ve been training weights combined with long runs, speed runs, and HIIT workouts. The foam roller has been my best friend during my training, helping with my recovery so I am ready to again the next day. 

How has Total Fitness supported you throughout your journey? 

Dan: We’ve got to know some of the Personal Trainers at the Preston club, Dawid has been great with offering encouragement and motivation each time I’m in the gym, we then met Tom who would give us training advice and tips, alongside some daily motivation too. 

John: The first thing that interested me in joining Total Fitness is that they have a 200m running track all around the gym. I knew this would be ideal for helping us with our training because I could use this to pull a weighted sled for miles on end. 

The support from Tom and Dawid has been incredible. Tom has helped me with the mental preparation side of the challenge, taking time to sit down and discuss my worries, fears, my motivations, and how best he can help us to achieve something that seems impossible. 

What do you think will be the hardest part of the challenge? 

Dan: For me it’s likely to be the heat. We’ve set this challenge for mid-August, the height of summer... I’m ginger and don’t handle the heat well – that's where James and John could have their advantage. 

John: The most challenging part for me will be during the night, when there won’t be many supporters around to cheer us on... just me and the van.  

Pulling a 1.5-tonne vehicle, anything over 25-26 miles, is unknown territory for us, so we will have to dig deep and continue to remind ourselves why we’re attempting this crazy challenge – for such a great cause. 

How will you be fuelling your body throughout the challenge to give you the strength to continue and go the distance? 

Dan: I’m on a slightly different diet to John and James as I’m vegan. One thing that we all have in common is that we will be eating lots of peanut butter and jam sandwiches throughout the day of the challenge to keep us fuelled. It’s a staple snack that we tend to eat on our van pull practice days. 

John: All three of us have nutrition plans and have fine-tuned our diets, and what works best for our bodies nutritionally during our practice van pulls that take place fortnightly. It’s all about keeping us going for those 30+ miles to help us go the distance.  

James: I plan to work to 5-mile segments, which should take around 2.5 hours to complete. After those 5 miles, I’ll give myself a break and refuel my body. Nutritionally I plan to consume at least 60-90g of carbohydrates per hour, alongside alternating between 500ml of water each hour, with the next hour replenishing with electrolytes to help fight cramp and fatigue, and to replace the salts lost through sweat. 

The record attempt isn’t just a test of strength and endurance for the trio, it’s all in the name of charity. They are aiming to raise a staggering £10,000 to support their two charities, Cancer Research UK, and Redeeming Our Communities. To find our more and donate, check out their fundraising page. Good Luck Dan, John, and James.



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