2013 is an epic year for 24-year-old Stafford man Dan Furze. It’s the year in which he has set himself the immense challenge in running as many miles.
2013 in 2013 is the project Dan set up which will see him run 2013 miles this year in a determined attempt to raise lots of money for worthy causes.
The idea of this running would probably make many squirm but Dan is no stranger to running — even though his interest was only sparked fairly recently.
“I’ve been running for a year, so not long! Last year one of my friends, just as a joke, suggested doing the half marathon in Stafford and I’d never ran before so I thought I’d try it. Then one of my friends bet me £10 that I couldn’t do it so I did. I gave that tenner to Macmillan because I was sponsoring them anyway. After that I did ten more races for Macmillan last year. It got addictive,” he says casually.
Having raised around £600 last year, his thoughts turned to how he could beat that this year: “I wanted something massive that would captivate people and get their attention and that’s when I came up with 2013 in 2013.”
2013 miles may sound like a lot, but as he broke it down, he realised it was five-and-a half miles a day, although Dan has been running at varying lengths daily.
“I really wanted to help as many people as I could, and to do that I had to come up with a big idea to get everyone’s attention and to get everyone involved, to keep it going and to get as much interest for the charities and their work as I could.”
The charities Dan has chosen to support in his quest are Red Cross, Médecins Sans Frontières and Make a Wish.
“There aren’t any personal reasons for choosing those charities. They’ve never helped me in particular but I was struggling to choose for ages because there’s so many great causes and I ended up on these three because Red Cross and Médecins Sans Frontières [Doctors Without Borders] are both worldwide organisations which try to help as many people as possible — which is what I want to do really. They have no qualms whatsoever about who they help, they go out of their way to help as many people as they can, in all different countries and all different scenarios and I just thought that was really respectable and admirable.
“I chose Make a Wish because I think what they try to do is so amazing — to try to make kids happy, and try and give them the happiest day of their lives, I don’t think there’s anything better in the world than that.”
Unsurprisingly, all of the charities have leapt on board with the idea.
“Médecins Sans Frontières recently invited me to London in March to do their Fun Run and talk to people afterwards and blog about it as well so that was really nice. They’re really behind the idea as well and they’ve been giving me a lot of help.”
It’s not just the charities who are getting behind 2013 in 2013 – a large part of the project is getting others involved, and Dan has had plenty of support from his family and friends.
Dan started out recruiting his friends into running with him and getting their friends to join, as well as few people signing up after reading an article about it in the Staffordshire Newsletter.
“I’ve also had a few people sign up from following me on Twitter and Facebook who I’ve never met before and they’ve ran with me and been a part of it. I’ve made a lot of new friends, that’s the idea, to get people involved and get them helping.
“I’ve been getting my colleagues out on our work breaks and making them run with me as well. They’re going to hate me by the end of the year!” he laughs.
A chance meeting with the managing director of Francesco group Ben Dellecompagni led to him deciding not only to personally sponsor Dan, but also to get the Francesco Group behind the challenge. Ben has offered corporate sponsorship and invited Dan to visit their salons and get staff involved.
“It’s good to have people like that supporting me. He was really enthused about the idea; he was really excited about it.”
Community driven events are also a big part of the 2013 in 2013 project. Dan hopes to get days running with the armed forces and other days with the emergency services, as well as working with local schools.
This month he will be visiting a Cannock primary school, delivering an assembly on 2013 in 2013 and encouraging the kids to get fit and help good causes.
“They’re all going to get a sponsor form, half of the money they raise will go to my charities, and the other half is going to go towards the school so we’re all going to benefit from it. Then each class is going to run one mile with me round their track so in one day I’m going to have to run round their track 14 times!.”
Anyone, Dan stresses, no matter what their age, background or level of physical fitness can get involved however they like. From running marathons to just training with Dan, whether raising money for Dan’s charities, their own, or running alongside him to keep him company, he welcomes any kind of support.
He is counting his miles with a GPS tracker “so there’s basically no cheating!”, and fellow runners can count theirs too if they wish.
“It’s no fun doing it on my own, I’ve got to have other people there – that’s why they’re there to help me out and be with me and support me and make it fun.
"You don’t have to be fit or athletic; I’ll help you through it. The idea is to have a cross section of people. I want to show people who think they can’t do it that they can do it. A year ago I couldn’t run a mile and now I can run a marathon. So it’s just to try and promote fitness and health as another angle and get people involved.”
Dan has mainly been running, along with his supporters around Stafford, Cannock, Wolverhampton and Penkridge, but he’s got his sights set on taking his running shoes further afield.
“I’ve got races set up all over the country and people are signing up to run races with me, so I’m going to travel to do their race and run with them. I’m also going to Paris in April, Greece in June, Iceland in August and Berlin in September and maybe Switzerland at some point to do races.”
He is filming his progress and taking photographs with everyone he runs with so you can follow all of his progress on his website.
“I’m doing little fun things as we go to make it exciting and interesting. I want to really get this community around it, build something on it to promote it, publicise it – and in the end, get a load of money!”
And how much is he hoping to raise?
“I’m hoping to raise £2013!” smiles Dan, “but hopefully more.”