‘It’s been a crazy but amazing year’, says detective who’s raised £6,500 in honour of his father
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January 1 will be Detective Sergeant Dan Thrale’s ‘Patrick’s Day’ as he completes a year of challenges in honour of his father.
Patrick Thrale suffered a major ischaemic stroke in February 2022 and Dan took on his mammoth task because he wanted to support his father by raising money for the Stroke Association, which funds medical research and supports stroke survivors to lead the best life possible.
Together with his two children, his niece and his nephew – Patrick’s grandchildren – Dan came up with the idea of setting himself a series of challenges for 2023 based around his father’s name: a Par challenge to play 365 holes of golf at par; abstaining from Alcohol for a year; playing a Tennis ‘marathon’ of 26 sets; a Roots run between his father’s childhood homes; completing an Ironman challenge; and giving back to the Community by volunteering at Havens Hospices.
The final letter was K for ‘kids set the challenge’. This involved four mini-challenges set by Patrick’s grandchildren: a playground marathon, attending 26 different parks; riding 'Axis' at Adventure Island in Southend; watching The InBESTigators Netflix series, 40 episodes over 10 hours in a single day; and a Cluedo challenge.
“Dad suffered a major stroke and could have been left severely disabled or died if it wasn’t for medical intervention. The Stroke Association commissioned the research for the operation Dad had at the Royal London Hospital and I wanted to pay them back for their support. “Dad’s OK now but still needs round-the-clock care. He manages to live at home because Mum is amazing. I’m thankful for the quality time we’ve had with him and this challenge shows what he means to me.”
After playing around 1,000 holes of golf, to achieve 365 holes at par; 29 sets of tennis in 13 hours in gale force winds, to give a game to everyone who volunteered to play against him; and completing an Ironman – a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bicycle ride and a marathon 26.2-mile run – in 13 hours 59 minutes, Dan finished his final athletic challenge with a flourish.
He completed an ultra-marathon on 18 December, running 33 miles between his father’s childhood homes in East Ham and Westcliff in six hours and 27 minutes.
“I wanted to push myself to the absolute limit. “Money is so tight nowadays, I wanted to really earn people’s donations. Having finished that last run and with the end of the year in sight, I feel a sense of relief and of pride. I’m really happy that I’ve achieved what I set out to and have raised more than £6,500 so far.”
Dan, who transferred to Southend CID last month from Basildon Domestic Abuse Investigation Team (DAIT), is the current UK Police tennis doubles champion and competed at the European Police Tennis Championships in Germany in 2022. And he has a respectable golf handicap of 14. But the Ironman in Klagenfurt, Austria, was on another level altogether.
“The Ironman is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever signed up to as I’ve never even done a triathlon. “I couldn’t really swim and I’d not done any distance running for ten years. So, to get from zero to the point of doing that is the best thing I’ve achieved, apart from my children.”
While training for the Ironman, Dan took part in Ride London on 28 May, cycling 100 miles in five hours 38 minutes, and also took part in a 2.4-mile open water swim in Bedford. In May alone, he travelled 658 miles – 557 miles cycling, 88 miles running and 13 miles swimming – burning 45,373 calories in the process!
Dan praises the support he has had along the way from family, friends and colleagues, including a triathlete and a swim instructor who provided training tips for the Ironman.
“The support has been one of the most amazing things about my challenge. Everyone bought into it and backed me. “It’s been a crazy but amazing year.”
Patrick is very proud of his son’s achievements and says:
“I don’t know of anyone who has done what he’s done with such devotion and dedication, spending his own free time to train and achieve these challenges. He is superman!”
With just a couple of shifts left at the hospice in Hadleigh, where he has volunteered more than 100 hours during 2023, Dan is looking forward to a well-earned drink with his family on New Year’s Day.
“Then I’m going to have a rest and spend more time with them. “I often trained early in the morning or after the children had gone to bed but this challenge has dominated my thoughts and timetable for a year. It’s been full-on, physically and mentally. “I was so motivated because I felt so passionately about it. “I’ll continue volunteering at the hospice but I have no more fundraising plans for now. I’ll just carry on trying to be a decent human being.”