This week has been one we've eagerly awaited for a while. Our events have now officially raised £1 million for worthwhile causes. Well done you! That is an absolute shed-load of cash!
When we first unofficially set up Breaking Strain back in 2008 it was initially just a platform to get free kit for the relatively stupid outdoorsy things we were doing at the time. In exchange for the kit, we did a bit of blogging, gear reviews and testing and a few interviews but it was never an events company. That we kind of fell in to through unfortunate circumstances.
Our first mass-participation event, if you can call 28 participants mass-participation, was the Sally Challenge in 2011. Our friend's mum, Sally, had cancer and Andy, wanted to put on an event to raise some money for the charity that was supporting her; so he came to Gaz and I. Tragically, Sally died in December 2011 but not before she was able to give out the medals to all the competitors who took on the 13 mile cycle and (fairly gruelling) 10 mile run at the first event. Over the course of five years the event generated almost £100,000 for two benefiting charities. The community that was built up around the event was supportive, caring and people consistently came back year after year. The last Sally Challenge was in 2015 but the event is so close to our hearts that we're bringing it back in August with a new route, new Event Village but same awesome atmosphere. Get signed up!
I'm pretty fortunate to have a job I absolutely love, get to travel to some fairly nice places, do fun things but more importantly get to meet some totally inspirational people raising money for charity. Despite a shit load of hard work we've also been lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time on occasion. In 2012, Greg McEwan, then working at Material Marketing, wanted to do a challenging event before he got too old (he was, like, 25 or something at the time) so we came up with Epic 2012, a huge 480 mile bike, run, climb, paddle event from the south west tip of Scotland to John o' Groats successfully raising £30K for Yorkhill Children's Charity (now Glasgow Children's Hospital Charity). This then led on to hooking up with the guys from Tommy Burns Skin Cancer Trust and after a five days cycling between all the Scottish Premier League football grounds, the challenge finished pitch-side at Celtic Park with former Celtic and Republic of Ireland goalkeeper, Paddy Bonner, who was a participant, being interviewed live on Sky Sports with our branding in the background. The rest, as they say, is history.
Since 2015, when I started to hatch the plan to leave the fire service to focus fully on Breaking Strain, we’ve been incredibly fortunate to work with some great Scottish and national charities. Our first Arctic trek for Edinburgh-based kid's cancer charity, It's Good 2 Give, raised a whopping £150,000 which went a part way to funding the build of their Ripple Retreat. The same year we started working with the amazing team at Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity delivering a range of events including their cycle, 10K sponsored walk and their Arctic trek (which raised £200,000). In September they are trekking in the Alps. A similar fundraising amount would be incredible (no pressure).
Yes, we're corporate and by necessity need to make money, we've got mortgages to pay and kid's to raise, but that doesn't mean that charities should be exploited to do that. We've been pretty clear on that from the beginning. We like charities, they do some truly amazing work and are staffed by incredibly dedicated people.
What we've seen through our own races, challenges and treks is that people are at their best when they are faced with adversity. We've seen people battling back from cancer and running a 50K (we later discovered they were fuelled from the final checkpoint by gin and tonic and olives), families running in memory of their loved ones and communities getting behind causes. Let's be clear, we're not taking any credit for your fundraising: you guys have raised this money we've only facilitated the events. When we started doing the event side of things we realised that we could have a more positive impact by putting on events rather than running them ourselves (that's my excuse for going cold-turkey on running). In the past we might've raised £500 by running a marathon but by putting on an event of the scale of Run the Blades, for example, we can have a far bigger financial impact and help more charities.
So, thank you on behalf of the benefiting charities you have supported over the past few years. People have been helped, buildings have been built, wishes have been granted and awareness has been raised!
Keep being awesome!