Joseph's year of 100 half marathons to support refugees

Joseph Griffiths with his UNHCR running shirt

Joseph Griffiths with his UNHCR running shirt - Credit: Joseph Griffiths

A former Sidmouth College student has been raising awareness of the plight of refugees by setting himself the challenge of running 100 half marathons in a year.

24-year-old Joseph Griffiths has so far, within 308 days, managed to complete 89 of the 100 half marathons he has set himself. His mammoth series of runs was inspired by #TheExtraMile UNHCR (the UN refugee agency) global virtual running challenge.

Joseph, who is a familiar face at Sidmouth Cricket club, having represented the town at cricket for several years, said: “Back in September, I was enlightened about ‘Run 4 One’ and One Bag Full, a fantastic organisation effectuating transformative actions for the Langa community, a township near Cape Town. The challenge was to run a half marathon and make a donation to help feed the Langa community. After the run, I was inspired to continue to support those less fortunate than I, which led me to UK for UNHCR’s ‘#TheExtraMile’ challenge. The challenge was to run a virtual half marathon; however, I wasn’t satisfied. Thereafter, I took on my own challenge, to run 100 half marathons in one year.

“The prejudice against refugees and migrants who have been forced to leave their country because they are a threat to development is unsettling. Development education was, and remains, a denouement to accentuate learning about the visual representation of inequality, yet abandons the importance of enriching our own understanding of development education and global poverty. For this reason, the role of development education in challenging the misconceptions associated with refugees and migrants in the Global North is indisputable. Therefore, I became interested in supporting the UNHCR.

Joseph spent his life growing up in Sidmouth with his parents and two older sisters before moving to De Beauvoir Town in Hackney last year to teach Exercise and Sport Sciences at Newham Sixth Form College.

He said: “I have thoroughly enjoyed my challenge so far. My enjoyment of human physiology, additionally, my role as a teacher of exercise and sport sciences, has given me a handy background in all things training and nutrition. However, I have encountered several challenges. In January this year, I tested positive for COVID-19 and had to self-isolate for 10 days. In addition, finding enough time to run can be a problem. I often run before embracing the London Underground rush hour.”

The sports teacher has tried to encourage his friends and family to join him on his half marathons, but often his suggestions fall on deaf ears. “Usually when I ask, people do not jump at the opportunity to join me on a run, I can't think why not,” said Joseph.

He added: “However, my girlfriend has joined me on several occasions and ran the full half marathon distance. My housemate has also been fantastic and has supported me through his mouth-watering culinary skills. His portion sizes have certainly kept me going! I have had fantastic support from all my friends, family and colleagues and their generous donations.

Since moving to London during the pandemic, Joseph has had to train and run much of his challenge locally. “I have mainly been running around North London, anywhere from Hampstead Heath, Tottenham, Stratford and Westminster,” said Joseph.

“This was partly due to Covid-19 restrictions from September to April. However, I have had the opportunity to get back home to Sidmouth once or twice and enjoy the sea air and countryside. On some occasions, I might decide to run a full marathon and/or an ultra marathon. There are some beautiful canal routes through Central and North London.”

As well as completing his 100 half marathon challenge, Joseph is looking to take part in the London Marathon this year. He is also taking on several other marathons and hopes to (Covid-19 dependent) complete his first 70.3 triathlon. 

Joseph has so far raised £885 from his charity runs with a total goal set at £2100, which is £100 per half marathon (21.1km x 100).

You can follow Joseph’s progress on his Strave page at: https://www.strava.com/athletes/50585655
If you would like to support Joseph’s 100 half marathons challenge go to: https://givepenny.com/josephgriffiths

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