Sometimes people will walk into your life that will inspire you to no end. Despite how hard something may appear, they choose to cast doubt aside and delve deep, into the pits of pain to resurface, unscathed, sporting a wild grin. Dan is one of these people.
I've been sat on this project for a long time now, trying to keep it somewhat secret due to it's infancy.
Just under a year ago now Dan & I sat down for lunch after talking for a while over Instagram. I had started following him on Abi's recommendation due to his no bullshit attitude towards life and training. Two coffees down and we were like old friends sharing cycling stories, veering wildly off topic at any given point.
We share a love for being able to push yourself into a deep dark hole and weather the storm of physical and mental bombardment. It's a place where we will both frequently visit to achieve a sense of cleanliness in our thinking. I really relate to Dan's process; Beast yourself into oblivion, drag yourself out, view the results and repeat. Pain is only temporary and all that jazz.
It's this process that brings out the best in us. To really push ourselves and see what is really possible with a bit of extra grit and determination.
With that being said, I think now is a good time to share Dan's plan with his brand RÁS.
A brand forged in the burning lungs of every athlete who has ever wished to push that little harder to distance themselves from the pack. A brand that focuses on pushing triathletes through every element of training. Be it the cold, harsh, open water, unforgiving head winds or the relentless pounding of earth under foot, RÁS athletes embrace these and overcome. A true RÁS athlete knows that real competition is against themselves & medals are just gifts from mortals.
We Race. We Achieve. We Strive.
The vision is simple - disrupt the fitness industry to empower personal change and growth.
RÁS will offer a place for aspiring athletes to push themselves into their darkest places in order to achieve incredible goals and revel in the euphoric after glow. Now don't get me wrong, this isn't just another "Gym" where somebody will watch you train and tick boxes as you do so. This is a place where only those determined to visit their darkest, most inward, tortured versions of themselves will train. My description may seem a little extreme, possibly a little over zealous but I can't help but get what Dan is trying to achieve with RÁS.
I'm sure each and every one of us can think of a time where we set out to achieve something but gave up prematurely when the first hurdle appeared. It's so easy to be defeated by yourself and a negative mindset. It reminds me of the quote "The stimulus for a lobster to grow, is that it feels uncomfortable". If you don't know it, Google it!
We finally locked down a date to shoot and decided we would meet in a lay by, overlooking Pen Y Fan, before sunrise. The goal for this shoot was to create gritty looking images that would capture the essence of RÁS along with a few "pain cave" faces. Throw Ashley Said into the mix and we would be left with some breath taking drone footage of Dan powering through the deserted landscape.
We were also joined by Dans Fiancée, Rhi, (If you haven't clocked it yet, I recently shot their pre wedding) who kindly prepared breakfast for us from the back of the van. She would also take over driving duties for the morning and set a deviant pace for Dan to follow whilst Ash & I worked from the back of the van.
Overall, we spent six or so hours watching Dan obliterate himself that day. Despite keeping at 25mph and above, Dan refused to drop away from the van... Or even move into it's slip stream. When the morning traffic started to increase we decided to move on to a more secluded to document Dan running. With the bike packed away and a new location reached, we would spend the final hours of our shoot in amongst the trees... Dan executing one hill rep after another. Still unfazed by the lactic acid that was now in every muscle.
We tied up the shoot and said our goodbyes. Whilst Ash & I went to find lunch, Dan & Rhi travelled to Bristol where they would continue training, this time swimming together.
Though RÁS is still in it's infancy, I'm certain this will not be the last you hear of it from me. It's a project that I am really proud to be involved with. I love everything about it. I enjoy the mindset that surrounds it and feel comfortable documenting the grit of it all through black and white images.
How you do anything is how you do everything
Keep an eye on RÁS as it grows
Below are my favourites of the day. I picked mainly cycling stuff as the light was bang on!