Whilst the UK population was coming to terms with the effects of COVID-19 and the grips of a lockdown future a new pack was emerging in your community; in all of our communities. From complete beginners to seasoned professionals, runners of all shapes and sizes were lacing up their trainers and taking to our empty streets, parks and trails to unite under one simple message - Run 5, Donate 5, Nominate 5.
In this interview The Pack delves deep into the mind of the campaigns founder Olivia Strong, who harnessed the power of social media and a willingness to be active to help motivate the world.
TP: Before we find out more about the campaign itself, tell us a bit about your own running story?
OS: I’ve always been a keen runner, from competing competitively when I was younger, to running marathons today. I’m a big advocate that running is an amazing tool for our mental health and general wellbeing. I’ve been running a lot during lockdown – in fact it’s been the only thing keeping me sane during these otherwise uncertain times and I'm sure I'm not the only one who would agree with that!
TP: So how did the idea first come about?
OS: I thought of the idea when I was out running around Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh and noticed how many people were out doing the same. I thought to myself imagine if we all ran 5km and donated £5 perhaps we could raise £5k. So when I got home I created the Run For Heroes Instagram page - with the tagline Run 5, Donate 5, Nominate 5. The following day I ran, donated and nominated everyone on my Instagram page.
Not long after this two of my friends got involved. India branded the whole campaign and Alice pushed the challenge out to the press. It’s been amazing to watch it grow and expand to places as far away as Tokyo and Toronto.
TP: We’ve now seen the campaign spread all over the world. How have you been involved in supporting this international growth?
OS: It’s been confounding to see the initiative spread around the world. We helped kick-start this in Australia, US, Canada, Spain and France. In the Netherlands and Northern Ireland we saw people continue the chain independently and we recently found out it raised over €500,000 for their local charities!
TP: Why do you think running is such a good tool for raising money for charity?
OS: Running is a powerful tool for fundraising because no matter if you’re training for a 5km or a 50km, knowing that you’re doing it for the greater good will motivate you to complete it.
I think Run For Heroes was successful because it gave people a reason to run during lockdown, while donating a small amount to charity. This was hugely rewarding as collectively we came together to create a positive impact, while feeling a big sense of achievement afterwards.
TP: How have you managed to keep the momentum going from the start of the challenge?
OS: We’ve been trying to keep momentum going by continuing to innovate while the campaign has evolved and constantly trying to think of new ideas to keep followers engaged.
We created a Strava challenge called ‘Faster 5k Fridays’ for The Care Workers Charity. This encouraged you to beat your 5km time every Friday and donate £5 afterwards. We raised over £20,000 on that initiative which was incredible.
TP: How have Strava been to work with throughout the challenge?
OS: Strava have been great to work with. We contacted them 6 weeks ago to see if they could set up the 'Faster 5k Friday' challenge mentioned before and they were so helpful from start to finish. They also set up a Strava challenge in Canada, which raised over $5,000 for the Canadian Healthcare system.
TP: Did you ever think it would ever get as big as it did?
OS: If someone told me 3 months ago we’d have raised nearly £7 million for NHS Charities Together, I would have never believed it - honestly I would have been happy if it raised £5! It’s thanks to the million runners who have continued to run, donate & nominate - coming together to create positive change in the world!
Video produced by Bold Studios
TP: What’s next for the initiative?
OS: We’re now working with Show Racism the Red Card, creating a campaign called #RunDonateEducate - this asks people to run 5km & donate £5 to educate young people in the UK about anti-racism. Hopefully this will get people to continue running post-lockdown!
All Run For Heroes graphics, branding and artwork produced by IVP Studios
If you’ve got any great stories to share about the communities and cultures you’re a part of that you think we should cover then get in touch!