I just love improbable stories that make you sit up and think, wow how amazing—I wish I could do that. And that is precisely what this week’s guests are all about.
Back in 2018, a group of middle-aged overweight, unfit, unhealthy London Black Cab drivers answered a tweet that ultimately would lead a few brave men to take a chance that would change their lives and help many more.
After a year of a harsh military training regime, a change in diet and mindset, three intrepid cabbies set off on an adventure of lifetime – to climb Kilimanjaro. Not only did the ‘fat cabbies’ (their words not mine), reach the summit, but they shed a ton of weight and raised around £20,000 for the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans. Oh, and by the way, they have been made Ambassadors for Tanzania. This then is the story of Daren Par and John Dillane aka Cabbies Do Kilimanjaro. This Is Your London Legacy.
“If you conjured up the classic silhouette for a cabbie—it would be a flat cap and a beer belly.”
Cabbies Do Kilimanjaro started out as a very simple twitter post. Most drivers stay connected on Twitter to stay alert to road closures, speed traps and the like—and this post sort of laughingly asked if any cabbies wanted to lose some weight and hike up to the top of one of the planet’s most iconic mountainscapes. As it turns out a few did. Darren himself had gone to Uganda and Venezuela to climb mountains before on a large adventure that took him across deserts and peaks alike. John felt instantly drawn as well, and before anyone could blink, ten drivers had all committed to getting in shape to take on the challenge.
“The reason why it’s good to go and do stuff like that is because there’s no hiding—when you got to walk up a steep hill, when it’s absolutely hammering down with rain and its windy, there’s no hiding.”
The challenge was set to inspire and motivate those with sedentary jobs that you can get up and accomplish seemingly impossible goals. So, about ten drivers started their training—in the gym and with free aid from Be Military Fit headed by Bear Grylls. They boys started taking to the peaks on the weekends to practice their hikes, and it was about this point that some started to fall off. The hikes and climbing are very strenuous in the peak district, and actually made it into the Yorkshire 3 Peak Club—a feat that must be accomplished in 12 hours and the group just was manage to join in their training.
“When we get to the top, I thought I’d be saying something poignant—that’s one small step for man, one giant leap for cabbies…all I could muster up was, I am battered. I am battered like I’ve never been battered before.”
Their trip is the stuff that makes memories for a lifetime and ripples out to affect the cultures visited and people back home. It’s an adventure that spans more than just a single harrowing climb, and John and Darren have no plans on stopping pursuing and pushing adventures on others. Next year Mount Meru is on the map in Tanzania, and they are hoping to not just take Black Cab drivers, but others too. For all you know, I may end up on the summit—no promises though. As ambassadors for Tanzania and adventure at large, John and Darren are continuing their work and training—all while driving our lovely citizens and visitors across our wonderful city.