I was looking forward to my usual ten mile run home from work. It was a glorious summer evening and I was feeling great, each mile split was getting faster so I decided to just enjoy the ride. I stopped my watch at the end in 57mins and commented to my wife (Tracy) that I'd had a good run and told her the time. 'You'd have won a prize if you did that in race,' was Tracy's response. As I was sat having my post-run latte, an idea came in my head - 'Why shouldn't I get a medal? Why shouldn't I get a prize? Why shouldn't I get something for my training? I'm doing lots of miles each month with nothing to show for it.'
That evening I started designing my own monthly distance challenge targets for the next few months, and based them on famous running routes. I'd dreamed of running the Sahara Desert and covering an ultra distance race (Marathon des Sables). The next day I contacted an outstanding medal designer, who designed the London Marathon medal each year. I told the designer I wanted a bespoke theme and a premium quality medal, as I would be inviting other people to take part in the challenge. I knew that prizes and rewards =would be a great motivator to get out and train, so I purchased an Apple S3 watch as a prize for our first challenge (video of winner here). I was thinking of a name for something that had started as an idea and was now getting quite a lot of interest on social media. Again, as my best ideas seem to happen whilst I'm running, a name entered my head - FITWINS - as I believe everyone who is active is winning, physically and mentally. As an athlete I didn't win all of my races but I'd had it drilled into me from day one by my father that giving your best means winning. FITWINS is about winning physically, winning mentally, taking on a challenge and smashing your goals.
I also wanted to make sure that each person who completed the challenge would receive a medal plus quality products from partners, including Revvies Energy Strips, TRIBE nutrition and 361 running shoes. AfterShokz now sponsor our challenges too. We only work with premium partners that support runners in their endeavours and have a premium quality product that we send out in our packs.
In early 2020, Covid happened. That changed pretty much everything for many people and restrictions were put in place on meeting other people in groups. This presented a challenge to keep people motivated and active during lockdown. With the interest we had from our challenges, in which people had previously submitted manual evidence by email, we decided to create the Fitwins App so users could see their progress along a real route, create groups with their friends and complete milestones on the real routes. We added cycling to the app and despite the challenges presented by Covid, thousands of people have taken part in our challenges and continue to do so.
To date, we have had people from all over the World take part in our challenges. Yes, I do get excited when a participant from another country enters our challenges. We've had entries from USA, Canada, Australia, Austria, Germany, Portugal, Switzerland, Sweden, Uganda, France and the Netherlands enter our challenges, in addition to the UK.
I set up, co-ordinate and manage challenge entries. My wife Tracy does all the hard work and completes all verification and sorts out your awesome packs. To date we've had so many positive comments, it's hard to believe what started with that ten mile run. We have some amazing things happening in the next few months and we like to keep making things even better. As an athlete, I look for improving and strive for high standards - the same applies to how we run our challenges.
I had to include a photo of me, below, running my best ever race - a 2.23 time in the London Marathon. In front of me there are lots of medals! The photograph shows that if you want to achieve something, go for it - make it happen.
FITWINS means winning physically, winning mentally, taking on a challenge and smashing your goals.