So, I’m Dan Smith, a 39-year-old former Sergeant that served for over a decade in the Royal Artillery as a GMLRS Commander and Physical Training Instructor. Originally from County Durham, I’m the proud father of two wonderful children – Fearne who’s 6 and Rowan who’s nearly 4 – and husband to my darling wife Caroline. 7 years ago, my wife and I founded a new company called Northern Bootcamp, which we continue to run and manage today. Together, we deliver key physical training and outdoor skill sessions during residential camps. We love encouraging people to push themselves physically and mentally, all in the great outdoors!

I am a big believer in your body being capable of incredible things, many of them, in fact. I think people can do so much more than what they think is possible. We often talk about giving 110%, pushing past your limits or going that extra mile, and I’ve lived my life with that mantra at the forefront of my mind. It’s this desire that inspired me to want to do something as challenging as the Paddle of Britain.

As you might expect, I consider exercise to be very important. For me, it’s a form of meditation – a fantastic way to clear, cleanse and focus the mind – which offers a release from life when it becomes overwhelming. Exercising is essentially my way of expressing gratitude for the body I’ve been given, a healthy body that I want to use to its full potential. I feel it’s crucial to always consider that somebody out there is worse off than you, somebody who may give anything to do what you do every day, whether it’s taking a walk, going for a run, or even giving a loved one a hug. I’m always mindful of this, and I’m so thankful to be able live a happy and healthy life. I try to never take that for granted.

Of course, we’re all just human at the end of the day, and so we’re prone to forget just how lucky we are. This is one of the reasons why I’ve always valued hardcore endurance events. They’re powerful, not just for the feelings of achievement and accomplishment you can get when you complete one, but for their ability to bring you back down to earth at times when you might have drifted a little too high. When you must endure the dual harshness of extreme fatigue and horrendous weather, you come to value the simple home comforts that we can so easily fail to appreciate. Even something as mundane as putting on a fresh pair of socks is something that really is an everyday luxury, never mind getting into a hot bath or comfy bed.

As a person who is inspired by the incredible feats of others, naturally I love the thought of inspiring others in turn. I’m always over the moon if I can encourage someone to push their body, test their limits and smash barriers they never knew they could. With Paddle of Britain, I hope to do that like never before.