Danny Quigley to take on 10 Ironman tests in memory of late father Colm and to raise funds for Pieta House and Bogside and Brandywell Health Forum

Danny Quigley with his son Jack, aged 7.Danny Quigley with his son Jack, aged 7.
Danny Quigley with his son Jack, aged 7.
A 30-year-old father-of-two from Derry will be embarking on 10 Ironman challenges every day for 10 days from August 20-29 in aid of Pieta House and Bogside and Brandywell Health Forum (BBHF) in memory of his triathlete 'model dad' Colm who died by suicide a decade ago.

A decade on from the tragic death of his father, Danny Quigley wanted to prove his mental and physical endurance in tribute to the man who shaped him into the person he is today.

The challenge he has chosen will indeed test his mettle as he has committed himself to taking on 10 Ironman challenges in 10 days.

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From August 20 – 29 2021, Danny, intends to swim 2.4 miles, cycle 112 miles and run 26.2 miles every single day amidst the stunning scenery of the North West of Ireland.

Having only taken up running in the months before the death of fitness fanatic Colm Quigley in March 2011, Danny feels certain that his dad would approve of his endeavour to complete the Deca Ironman - even if the rest of the family are baffled.

Danny has only ever done half-Ironman events up until now and he admits that it’s going to be tough but he doesn’t doubt his ability or self-belief to succeed at the challenge he has set himself.

And a positive mental outlook is at the heart of it.

Danny said: “It was a shock when my father died but he had been worried about a number of different things which were made worse because of his depression. We were living in Burt in County Donegal at the time so I wanted to raise money for Pieta which provides therapy for those suicidal, self-harming or bereaved by suicide.

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"My father was originally from the Bogside so I wanted to raise money for BBHF which does a lot of counselling for mental health and holds an annual 5K in his name.”

Colm was well known in his local area and far beyond as a triathlete. He raced for Ireland at elite level. Danny, on the other hand, excelled in basketball, representing Northern Ireland at Under 21 when still only a teenager. But he finally decided to join his father for a run around the age of 20.

Danny said: “I only started training with my father about four months before he died, but he was very excited to see me taking an interest. He was very competitive and wanted to see how I would do against others. We both entered a race together but he never lived to take part. I went on ahead with it and finished third, but the organisers that day made me feel like I’d won it.

“Since then, I’ve gone on to become a fitness instructor with a gym in Newtowncunningham in Donegal and a recovery hub in Shipquay Street in Derry I’ve finished on the podium for the half-Ironman events I’ve competed in, so doing a full one didn’t seem like a big enough challenge. I’d heard about the 10in10 so that’s what I decided to do.”

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The preparation is a mammoth undertaking in itself. Danny now has to organise a whole team to help with his training and nutrition and the daily logistics of this 10-day endurance test, as well as secure sponsorship and donations in between spending time with his young sons aged seven and one-year-old.

Time, he admits, is an issue, but he is grateful for all the help he’s been given.

Danny said: “I’ve been overwhelmed with the support I’ve received to date from local companies and individuals. James Walton, from Limavady, is helping me with my training schedule while Evan Lynch is taking care of my diet. Bron in Derry is providing me with all my food and drinks in the build-up which is 10,000 – 12,000 calories on big training days, while Scarpello will cover the 10 days of the Deca Ironman when I’ll need to consume 16,000 calories daily. “

He explained: “Most of the calories will come from drinks, with some soups, smoothies and poached eggs, anything that’s easy to eat and doesn’t require a lot of chewing. Chewing takes up too much energy and it’s hard to do when you’re also trying to breathe. Also, I’ll need to be taking in food or drink every 20 minutes during the challenges so it’s something I don’t want to have to think about. All I want to be concentrating on is the task at hand.”

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“O’Neills have agreed to provide all my running gear, including socks, shoes, base layers, everything! It is extremely generous, and I want to thank them for agreeing to it. In addition to this they are providing me with a bespoke shorts and t-shirt that I will wear during the run legs.

"Taking on something like this is very different from doing one day; if I were to get wet, I could develop hypothermia, so I need constant changes of clothing. I’m going to get blisters and sores, that’s to be expected, so, again, changes will be vital to my performance.”

A spokesperson for O’Neills Irish International Sports Company, said: “We have the utmost respect for Danny and the challenge he is setting himself. O’Neills are the main sponsors of the Colm Quigley 5K Jog in the Bog, and we are delighted to be able to provide Danny with all the clothing he requires during his 10in10 challenge. He is fundraising for two very worthy causes and we wish him well and will be cheering him on throughout.”

While the routes for Danny’s cycles and runs have yet to be finalised, the main focus will be on finding somewhere flat.

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He said: “I’m hoping to use the swimming pool at Foyle Arena in Derry for my swims, beginning at 6am, and from there I will possibly cycle to Downhill on the North Coast and back, twice to fulfil the distance, or head to Skeoge Roundabout on the outskirts of the city and then do eight laps from there to Inch in Donegal which should take around seven hours.

"The course has to be mostly flat, hills slow you right down. For the runs, I’m thinking of going out the old railway line from Derry to Carrigans in Donegal and back along the quay to Bay Road; if I do that twice, it will bring me up to the 26.2 miles, a marathon!”

Throughout it all, Danny’s thoughts will foremost be with his late father, Colm.

“He was a model father and my teacher. His passion for sports and motivation to push himself to his physical limits have lived on in me. In the 10 years since his death I have remembered him and carried on his memory in different ways; I’ve opened a gym which has cultivated a community of like-minded people that put their fitness and mental well-being first.

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"With the help of the Bogside and Brandywell Health Forum, we’ve held the Jog in the Bog in his memory and every year we raise hundreds of pounds for mental well-being charities.

“As this is his 10th anniversary, I’ve wanted to remember him especially this year, in a way that is true to his character and in a way that challenges myself. I’m both nervous and excited about taking on the ‘10in10’ but, with the right support, I know I’ll be able to get there.”

All the monies raised for the Bogside and Brandywell Health Forum will be invested into Mental Health Services which provides much needed counselling services for people in Derry. With Covid, the demand has increased drastically for these services and this fundraising will help to change people’s lives and give them hope for the future.

Entries for this year’s Jog in the Bog will take place from 4th-8th August in O’Neills Sports Superstore, Waterloo Place. The first 300 entrants will receive a voucher for 25% off full price Asics products.

To help Danny with his fundraising, visit: www.gofundme.com/DannyQuigley10**Lifeline can be contacted on 08088088000, Samaritans on 116123 and the Derry-based CCIS on 02871262300.