Financial sector workers have a penchant for ultra-marathons. With their gruelling 56-mile a day schedule tapping into bankers’ masochistic tendencies, the chance to shell out thousands on flash kit and potential for office bragging rights, those from the financial sector have gravitated to these endurance events – around 30% of participants work in the industry.
Most do this as a test of their physical and mental mettle, or as a vanity project in their approaching middle age (or indeed retirement). However, Danny Kendall, a 35-year-old accountant from London, looks like being a real competitor for the top spot.
Kendall is currently in the midst of the highest-profile ultra-marathon, the Marathon Des Sable, the six-day, 251km event that takes place in the Sahara desert in Southern Morocco. He’s currently 5th, 25:29 mins behind the leader, after the second stage and is tipped to be the first Briton to make it into the top ten.
Fifth may not seem like a spectacular performance, but the Marathon des Sable is always dominated by Moroccan men, who currently hold the top three places. This will be Kendall’s sixth time out at the event, having finished 10th in the 2013 race – the highest placed finish for a Briton in history of the event.
What’s more remarkable is that Kendall didn’t start running until he was 24, at which point he was unfit “around 10kg overweight and into binge drinking, social smoking and eating crap like doner kebabs”. He started out to lose weight and increase his focus, but soon discovered a natural ability – running under three hours for the marathon after a couple of years. Over the past two years, he says he’s stepped up his training schedule to be seriously competitive and has been to the “KUSNH Consultancy’s state of the art heat chamber” to acclimatise himself to the desert temperatures and going on training weekends with the likes of ultra-runner Antonio Filippo Salaris.
Kendall is another example of a financier taking a hobby into something decidedly more serious. Meredith Kessler, for example, was at RBC Capital Markets, working 60 hours a week, and still managed to transform herself into a professional triathlete.
Perhaps a combination of natural ability with the sort of resilient attitude required to succeed in the financial sector is a good mix. Colin Geddes, a former investment banker at Deutsche Bank and organiser of the Grand to Grand ultra-marathon told us previously that “A lot of the people who do these events are well-heeled investment bankers, partners in law firms, CEOs and entrepreneurs.These are type-A personalities who tend to push themselves physically and mentally, and are able to pay for fees, equipment and travel costs.”