Ed's story:

I have always been into running since I was at secondary school, and it was my escape when I was a young teenager. When I left school, I joined the Army and being part the Parachute Brigade, there was a big emphasis on fitness and training. I found I enjoyed the running and long-distance events the most.

I started triathlons quite late when I was thirty-five. My aim was to become a better swimmer, as I was not confident in the water and wouldn’t class myself as a swimmer at all. After my first triathlon (where I came out last in the swim)! I got the triathlon ‘bug’. I completed my first iron distance triathlon in 2013 in Roth, Germany, around the same time I retired from the Army.

Pictured above: Ed Brennan

I was forced to stop competing in 2016 after a back injury and then subsequently spinal surgery in 2018. After my operation I lost my confidence and my mental and physical health declined.  I didn’t realise at the time how much mental health is linked to physical fitness and exercise. All through my life I had trained for one thing or another, had goals and focuses. The change from coming out of Army life, trying to adjust to civilian street and find my direction, was much bigger than I anticipated. One thing lead to another and I reached a very low point in my life. It wasn’t until 2020 during lock down that I looked at what was really important to me and what I wanted out of my life.

I decided to start training again as I had not done anything since my injury and I instantly fell in love with it again. I had changed my eating habits in late 2019 and stopped drinking alcohol in 2020 and have found that I am fitter, happier, more in control and more positive than I have ever been. It has really shown me how properly looking after myself and exercising is such an important part of improving my mental health and wellbeing.

I decided to do these endurance events for my own personal reasons and to challenge myself again, but I also wanted to raise awareness and funds for 3 charities close to my heart, one being Autism Anglia. I have become familiar with the charity through my wife who works there, and I have heard about and seen the dedication of the staff and the good work it does.  

Charities like Autism Anglia are a vital part of peoples lives for those that they help, and the dedication of the staff is unbelievable.

Autism is something that I believe is still very much misunderstood and people are scared of the unknown or misjudge those affected by it.  I also believe that lockdown has taken its toll on the smaller local charities than anything else.  Charities like Autism Anglia are a vital part of peoples lives for those that they help, and the dedication of the staff is unbelievable.

Pictured above: Ed Brennan

I decided to do some hard events to reflect how hard the staff work and to also highlight the determination of those that have Autism. For example, I have specifically chosen to do 3 triathlons three days in a row, to relate to those with autism who have to get up day after day, find the strength to get through the day and try to ‘fit in’, or test themselves with an activity or task they have a fear of, or communicate their thoughts and feelings in a way that others can understand hope this will show awareness of people with it.  

At my work some colleagues children have autism and we also have customers with Autism, with whom I go out of my way to try and make them feel welcomed and accepted. If I can help in a small way in making people more aware then I will feel I have succeeded in my aim.

With grateful thanks to Ed for sharing with us why he is fundraising for Autism Anglia. We all wish him the best of luck with this monumental challenge!