Entries for our Fittest Fundraiser competition are now closed, and we've walked away with two worthy winners. Let's get to know them...


Two for the price of one – it’s everyone’s favourite supermarket offer, but it’s also what we’ve got on our hands now that the Fittest Fundraiser competition is over. See, we’ve walked away with two worthy winners instead of just the one. That means we’ve got twice the amount of miles to cover, and twice as much chance to raise a huge amount of cash with JustTextGiving.

Ready? Let’s meet our winners…

Sophie Mullins

sophieAfter starting running in 2008, and quickly going from amateur local pro, Sophie has recently completed her first competitive run after spending nearly two years battling illness. “I’ve got a condition called Mastocytosis,” she explains, “which I was finally diagnosed with in June last year. At that time I was too ill to do anything – I was struggling to even walk a couple of hundred metres.

“I was given the diagnosis that not only would I never run again, but I should never run again. The condition means I have too many mast cells, and they’re very unstable, so there’s lots of things that can cause them to destabilise. When that happens they degranulate, and that’s like a massive allergic reaction.”

“I was too ill to do anything – I was struggling to walk a couple of hundred metres.”

But, thankfully, that’s not stopped Sophie – it’s only spurred her on more: “Now I’ve got medication and other means to keep it stabilised and run safely. I’m getting fast again now,” she says. “Or fast-ish! I’ve got to build my fitness back up but I’m feeling good.” We think she’s being modest – Sophie came second in her most recent outing.

Sophie’s raising money for Leukemia and Lymphoma Research, which aims to solve a problem she’s acutely aware of; suffering from Mastocytosis means she’s more susceptible developing to both illnesses.

“Being diagnosed with Mast Cell Leukemia sometimes only gives you about two or three months to live,” she explains. “I have a much higher chance than the rest of the population of developing it, but, putting that aside, I think it’s horrible that there’s a major cancer that there’s still no real treatment for.

“I want to raise money for charities that are going to use it for research into this, because they don’t often get the big pharmaceutical funding due to how rare these illnesses are.”

If you’d like to support Sophie’s worthy cause, you can text TINY81 and your chosen amount of money (for example, TINY81 £3) to 70070, to donate using JustTextGiving.

Grant Counsell

grant“My running background? Not very much, really!” says Grant, laughing. But in truth, he’s no stranger to long runs, even if the Fittest Fundraiser challenge is way bigger than anything he’s done in the past. “I’ve done a few fundraising things through work with a whole bunch of people,” he says. “We did the Manchester run last year, and we did the Great South Run three years ago for different charities.

“That’s the extent of my running career, if you want to call it that!” So why was he so keen to get involved with the Fittest Fundraisr competition? To try and raise as much money as possible for a cause that’s close to his heart:

“Three members of my family are affected with different types of cancer,” Grant explains, adding that he’s raising money for Cancer Research UK. “There’s nothing you can do about that in a way, but it’s about doing anything that I can, to do something positive that can help somebody else. That’s why I’m doing it.”

“Training’s going pretty well. I’m not worried about next weekend now…”

Luckily, Grant’s also got a bit of moral support along the way: “On some of the runs, some of my colleagues are coming with me as well. There’s six of us doing the Bupa Great Manchester run, two of us doing the Great North Run, and another colleague doing the Great South Run.

“Training’s going pretty well,” he adds. “I’m not worried about next weekend now – I’ve done a couple of ten milers, and have been training since the beginning of January. I’m not hugely worried about anything now.” Good news, because competing in seven of the UK’s biggest running events is no mean feat.

To support Grant and donate to Cancer Research, you can text RUGC80 and your chosen amount (for example, FAST61 £3) to 70070, to donate using JustTextGiving.

Oh, and there’s one more member of the team…

Dan Bowsher

2ab8d2d9-3089-492f-8507-69ef4c16050eDan’s our man on the inside. He’s part of the Vodafone UK social team and, outside of work, he’s spent the best part of the last two and a half years getting into running and encouraging others to run with him to raise money for charity. All told, we thought he’d be a great candidate to take on the challenge too – not to mention contributing to the group’s social media know-how and running chat.

And, as he puts it, it’s a fantastic opportunity:

“I’m really looking forward to meeting Sophie and Grant and getting to know them – their Fittest Fundraiser applications were really strong and it’s great that both of them are involved. Getting through a series of events like this is as much about your support network throughout training as it is at the events – not to mention the JustTextGiving donations – and I’m sure there’s going to be lots we can learn from each other over the next few months.”


Claire Lomas cycling 5Keep on moving
We spoke to Claire Lomas to find out how charity sport events are changing.
Click here to find out the future of fundraising.


“I’m running for the James Hopkins Trust, which is a small, regional charity providing respite care for families of severely disabled and life-limited children in my hometown of Gloucester. I spent two months working with them last year and it’s great to be able to participate in the Fittest Fundraiser to support the amazing work they do.”

To support Dan, text DGTR79 and your chosen amount to 70070.

Ready to run? Our Fittest Fundraisers will be running seven of the Bupa Great Runs throughout 2013, and we’ll be following them every step of the way. For a full rundown of the events and more on the challenge at stake, click here.