Running for MIND: Ben’s year-long challenge

Photo of Ben Johnson (left) with fellow ‘3k a day’ challenge participants Aaron and Jack.

A New Year’s Eve challenge, made under the influence of a few celebratory drinks with friends, turned into a life-changing fitness quest for one SGS employee.

South Gloucestershire and Stroud (SGS) College Students’ Union engagement officer Ben Johnson and two of his friends made a pact back on New Year’s Eve 2018 to run 3k every day throughout 2019 to raise money for the mental health charity MIND.

The challenge has been a difficult one for Ben to persevere with: “Before starting this challenge, I could run for about 20 minutes before getting tired. I’ve always played football so was physically fit, though I really had to adapt to continuous running, which was difficult. I was a little chubby around the edges and definitely didn’t have a stable and healthy diet, enjoying the occasional pint and over indulging in luxury treats.”

However, not to be beaten by each other, the three friends have persisted with the challenge and on Monday 16th December, we met with Ben as he completed day 350. Ben said: “I try to alternate my route by location and distance to keep it interesting. In the mornings or evenings, I often run around the Clifton area where I live and at lunchtimes I’ll run around Filton where I work. The good runs are at weekends when I may escape to the hills or out in the countryside. Although running downhill has caused me a lot of stress to my shins.”

With the end of the challenge now only two weeks away, the friends have raised a staggering £2,358 for MIND and look set to reach their target of £2,500 by the end of the year.

Ben added: “We have run with terrible hangovers in Alcudia and Rome, sometimes in 40 degree heat. The lads, Jack and Aaron, have even had to run during the Glastonbury Festival and also on a skiing holiday!”

When asked about the motivation behind this mammoth challenge, Ben said: “Every year, one in four of us will experience a mental health problem. MIND believes that no one should have to face a mental health problem alone. Neither do we. That’s why we have decided to do something both unique and challenging to raise money for a great cause that is close to our hearts.”

“MIND and mental health is a big factor in my life and running everyday has really helped on days where I’ve felt blue. We hope we can give something back to such an amazing cause.”

You can follow the final stages of their challenge on Facebook (@3KadayforMind) and Instagram (@runningformind), and donate online at

Photo: Ben Johnson (left) with fellow ‘3k a day’ challenge participants Aaron and Jack.

This article originally appeared in the January 2020 issue of the Bradley Stoke Journal magazine (on page 25). The magazine is delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH (except August), to ALL 8,700 homes in Bradley Stoke. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.

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