Dan Ran Panama!

By Sported | 4th April 2022

Running and kayaking through the jungles of a tropical country, full of deadly creepy crawlies might not be everyone’s first choice when thinking of how to raise money for charity, but our very own action man, Dan Fyffe-Jardine – and Sported’s Scotland National Manager – did just that, when he set off to cross Panama under his own steam last week.

We caught up with him on his return, dying to hear all about it:

What made you decide to run and kayak across Panama?

Well, I guess kind of the main thing that made me do it was lockdown. I suffer from light anxiety that is linked to the fact that I had skin cancer a few years ago and the anxiety just kind of stuck around since. A lot of the time it’s OK and sometimes it’s not. During lockdown, everything turned into Groundhog’s day, where every day was exactly the same and there was so much uncertainty. I think out of what was happening, there was a little seed of doubt in my mind and my anxiety was growing and growing. I wanted something to break the cycle, something to get me to exercise and be healthy, something that was going to challenge me. I’m 42 so it was probably a mid-life crisis!

And why Sported? The links are very clear for me. Sported is all about using sport as a catalyst to turn people’s lives around and the links with young people and mental health challenges are very, very obvious, particularly during lockdown when you take away positive activities and access to positive role models. The links between what I was doing and what Sported do were pretty obvious for me.

How did you prepare?

For 14 months, I religiously trained for this. From day one, I built a training plan with a personal trainer, I saw a nutritionist, who came up with a diet plan, and I had a logistics plan as well. Other than when I had Covid and my vaccinations it was for nearly 14 months, every day, that I trained.

I lost just over 20kg during that time. And yeah, I suppose as an average Joe athletically, I lived a bit like a professional athlete for a bit of time – it was a great social experiment!


What was it like out there? What were the best bits / worst bits?

It was incredible out there!

Best bits: it’s really hard to answer on lots of levels. It is absolutely beautiful, really a gorgeous country! Being able to see so many parts of it was great; Panama City very briefly but then to see the rural parts of Panama. Seeing the continental divide was very cool, so getting to the peak of that and seeing all the water flowing to my left was going to the Atlantic Ocean and all water flowing to my right was going to the Pacific Ocean – that was very cool!

Finishing it was an absolute high! Never done anything like this before – might never again! It is definitely the hardest thing I have ever done. So, a real kind of sense of achievement but also I surprised myself a little bit in terms of being able to do it. There were 35 of us who started and less than half finished. In four years since they started this challenge in Panama I am one of only 21 who have completed this route!


What was not great, what was hard? The heat, the mud: I hadn’t really anticipated the effects of mud when climbing mountains. It was definitely the hardest thing ever! I mean every day I was pushing myself to where I didn’t think I could do any more… and then kept pushing. There were quite a few people on that who had done Marathon du Sable and they ALL said this was much harder. So, there was that….and Death Frogs!

Death Frogs are these little red frogs that are highly poisonous- they use them to make poisonous darts out of. They were really scary!! We weren’t too fussed about spiders but were all petrified of these frogs! If one gets into your hammock, you’re not in a good place! Spiders were pretty impressive as well but supposedly the big scary ones were pretty harmless. I did wake up one night to find two on my mosquito net looking down on me, each one the size of my hand! And rehydrated food for nine days is not cool! When we came out of the jungle and met the support crew and they had some fresh fruit and pizza, that was the amazing!

Cheesy, but true: seeing my girls was the happiest/best bit and then having a bath! Being clean, being able to shave! Fresh food and drinking water out of a glass was quite cool.


What is the total you’ve raised so far?

Just under £11,000, so if there is a link at the bottom we can try and get over that!

What’s next?

Spend a bit of time with family and refill the goodwill account that I have with my wife, who has put up with so much for 14 months to make this happen! And we’re of course about to finally – after it being cancelled repeatedly for the last couple of years – go and see my family in South Africa and they get to meet their granddaughter!

So, that’s next. There will be something after that but I don’t know what it is yet. Definitely, I have kind of unlocked something unfortunately!

At Sported we are so proud of Dan’s achievements and thankful for the wonderful funds he has raised for the charity. If you would like to donate, visit his page below.

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