Written by Tamia Santiago
“‘I finally realized that I was not thrown into the fire, but that I was the fire. And every challenge would try to put me out.’ As a person I am shining very brightly. People can be intimidated by people who shine very brightly, but everyone is a fire. Whether you are a little flame or a big one you could be the inspiration that makes someone shine brighter.” — Darien Edwards
Darien’s fire could have seized at any moment in his life as his challenges conjured one of the toughest journeys. Before Darien Edwards became the PR King, he struggled with a deflating air mattress on his father’s floor. This air mattress was only one of the many things that left Darien in a hard place after his dreams of becoming a millionaire through network marketing failed. He had no money, and his car was repossessed. His last option was Baltimore.
What was the Shoestring Belt?
In 2015, at the end of his rope, Darien found himself at his father’s doorstep in Baltimore. “My dad took in his broke, busted, and disgusted son. No haircut in months, no decent clothes, not even a belt to wear.” It was his last resort. His relationships were ruined, his pockets were empty, and his dreams were diminishing.
It was a Sunday, so Darien thought he could stay in and look for work the next day. However, his father made him search for work just moments after arrival. “He asked if I had a belt to wear, I said no, and he took one of his old shoestrings for me to wear so I could hold my pants up. I ended up going into the place I would eventually work that day & the shoestring belt helped show I cared, and I was trying.” Darien’s Baltimore chapter was meant to be one of rebuilding, but challenges grew, and existing ones got worse.
Why the Marine Corps?
“Another funny story... I actually went to join the Army and walked in the wrong door,” said Darien in response to why he joined the Marine Corps branch, specifically. Darien was told to go to the military by his dad, but it was not until a father figure in his life brought it up that he made the decision.
Darien had two days of the week off: Tuesday and Thursday. On these days he would ride his $100 Walmart bike 11 miles to the recruiting station, train, and ride 11 miles back. Consequently, during this time in Darien’s life, he did not have a break, but the Marines was changing him. It helped him uncover talents he did not know he had.
Where did the name PR King come from?“I hadn’t run in three years, and we had to do a 1.5-mile PT test. I said to myself, ‘Okay, I’m just going to see what I can do.’ I beat most, if not half the Marine poolees who had been training for months. So, I said to myself, ‘Okay, I can kind of run.” Darien’s roommate at the Marine Corps had exceptional fitness levels as well; he had the idea that the two should join an upcoming triathlon on the base. “He was an amazing swimmer; I was a decent runner. We wanted to see what else we could do. So, my roommate bought a bike from Walmart, and I grabbed a bike someone was giving away on the side of the road, and we just rode those.” Darien went on to say he absolutely hated the swim and told himself he is never doing it again.
It was not until the summer of 2019 that Darien felt his six years of growth. He was morphing into the man that he needed to be and doing the things he wanted to do. “Things started to click, and mentally, I was finally growing up. Running was becoming more than just working out to me; it was becoming who I was and what I was known for." When asked what advice you would tell your past self, Darien responded, “I would say to apologize to your dad and forgive him for kicking you out. Having parents around to talk to does not last forever. Drop the ego and go see your dad.”
Where did Varlo fit into your journey?
The photos on Varlo’s feed reminded him of home. “They were always posting mountains and trees and I wanted to be a part of this, plus they had a sale one day, and I bought a bunch of stuff.” Darien went on to say he expressed to Reggie Waller at Varlo how much he loved the movement. Then, he became a part of it. “Varlo was the first brand I partnered with, and I felt like this was the next step to being an athlete.” He went on to say he loved the principles of the brand, and everything seemed genuine. Varlo helped him get out of the funk of race cancellations in 2020 and immersed him into the community he needed. “Varlo gives off one of the best vibes I've ever had. Especially the people running the company. For a small company they're growing super-fast and I'm just happy to be here."
Although he is now three years into the world of multi-sport, Darien feels there is more to learn before he can teach. Currently, Darien is training to be competitive in the half Ironman distance and has the long-term goal of racing sub-3 in all marathon world majors before the age of 40. Darien said he is still living the story, aiming higher, reaching further, finding new ways to push himself, and inspire the people around him.
“I believe in myself and the people around me, I can't wait to see what happens next.”