In July 2018, Outsmart shared the story of gay Houstonian Dario Mariani, 33, and his 225K ultra-marathon across the Gobi Desert to raise funds for the Charles Darwin Foundation’s shark conservation efforts on the Galapagos Islands. Mariani is once again returning to the world of ultra-endurance sports, but is moving from the land to the sea with a 16K (approx. 10-mile) swim across the Bonifacio Strait from Corsica, France, to Sardinia, Italy.
Mariani’s ultra-swim this month has the added challenge of taking place amidst a global pandemic. This has impacted his ability to adequately train due to the pandemic-induced closure of workout facilities and swimming pools around Aberdeen, Scotland, where he is currently located for work.
But this isn’t stopping Mariani, who knows how to dig deep by remembering where he started. “I remember a time in Houston’s Memorial Park when I couldn’t run a mile without stopping,” he admits.
Since those days of huffing and puffing along Memorial Drive, Mariani trained hard and in 2016 completed his first Ironman triathlon in Copenhagen. Then, with the help of gay-owned, Houston-founded Define Body and Mind, he was able to hone his training in preparation for the Gobi Desert marathon. He carries all of that experience with him as he moves on to this new challenge.
“My training consisted of a 12-week plan, lifting weights five to six days a week (depending on the week), eating six meals per day, and swimming after lifting for at least an hour. As I got closer to the twelfth week, I increased the length of swims but reduced their frequency to three times per week, where one was an endurance swim (over three hours) at a slower pace, and another one was a pacing swim (under three hours) at a faster pace, sometimes using paddles or a kickboard.
“All of this was done in a pool I found close to my apartment here in Aberdeen. It was the only one I found where they didn’t have restrictions on how long I could use a swim lane. I also needed to practice my breaks in the water to drink and eat, as I will be doing during the crossing,” he explains.
Mariani was newly inspired as he learned more about how the pandemic has created an additional strain on the wildlife that he is working to protect. He recalls seeing in the news how fishing fleets were causing trouble and endangering wildlife habitats. In response, conservationists have been pushing to expand protected areas, which requires research to demonstrate the negative impact on the shark populations that are already endangered.
“One thing the pandemic has taught me is to invest myself fully in the things that matter, to protect who and what I love,” says Mariani. “Please join me by investing in a future with thriving seas. Between us, we can surely pull the world through its present crises and lead the way to a happier time ahead—for ourselves and for the sharks.”
To help Mariani save the shark population in the Galapagos, visit From the Gobi🏃Desert to the Bonifacio🏊Strait | LinkedIn before the end of September.