As charity campaigns go, GO Run For Fun has been a runaway success. But founder INEOS chairman Jim Ratcliffe is not one to rest on his laurels, as those who know him, know only too well
INEOS’ simple campaign to get children fit by encouraging them to run for fun has reached yet another milestone.
This summer more countries than ever have hosted GO Run For Fun events, the latest being Italy and Norway.
“It really does now have a truly international feel,” said Ursula Heath, INEOS Group Communications Officer, who works on the campaign.
So far more than 220 events have been hosted in Germany, Switzerland, Holland, America, Belgium, France and the UK with the £1.5 million donation set aside by INEOS when it launched the campaign three years ago. At the time founder INEOS chairman Jim Ratcliffe said his target was to reach 100,000 children.
“We smashed that target months ago,” said Ursula. “But our reach is still growing, and we’re not about to give up now. If anything our ambitions have got bigger.”
Although INEOS’ original donation is drawing to an end, with the growing appetite for getting children outside and running for their health and wellbeing, the GO Run For Fun team is excited about the possibilities for the future.
“We are continuing to stage these high energy, hugely popular fun runs but we’re increasingly looking to work closer with schools to provide the motivation and materials to teach healthy active living all year round,” said Ursula.
The team is now headed up from within INEOS by John Mayock, a former Olympic athlete who has staged nationwide school sports programmes.
“The GO Run For Fun campaign has gone from strength to strength,” he said. “We now have more countries, more children, countless events and have won the support of more than 150 world-class sporting ambassadors.”
Numerous sponsors are supporting the campaign and negotiations with potential partners to help fund the campaign will continue.
INEOS will also continue to support former Scottish headteacher Elaine Wyllie’s ground-breaking Daily Mile initiative, which is growing apace, by working closer with participating schools.
“The two campaigns not only share a similar goal, but complement each other,” said Ursula.
The Daily Mile encourages children to get into the habit of running by taking part in a mile-long run in school every day. GO Run For Fun is the big event – the one that inspires children to give it their all.
“GO Run For Fun is like a circus when it comes to town,” said John. “And it leaves a lasting impression on the kids.”
But both share a similar ethos and vision.
“Children are encouraged to enjoy running, no matter their speed, ability or experience,” said Ursula. “And that’s the reason why both these campaigns will have a positive impact on the activity levels and health of the next generation.”
With Jim Ratcliffe’s vision buoyed by the success of the campaign so far, the next era of GO Run For Fun is going to be an exciting one to watch.
CHAMPION! ZAK CANNOT BELIEVE HIS LUCK
AS days go, July 14 was quite a day in nine-year-old Zak Schuster’s life.
The Swiss schoolboy had stopped off at London’s Olympic Stadium with his parents in the hope of seeing where athletes Mo Farah and Usain Bolt had won gold medals in the 2012 London Games.
But instead he stumbled across INEOS’ GO Run For Fun event which was being staged inside the iconic venue for the very first time in the hope of inspiring British children to run for fun.
Zak’s mum Janet asked if he might take part.
“We don’t normally accept late entries but we could not refuse him,” said Ursula Heath.
Zak was given a spare number, one of the charity’s trademark pink T-shirts and lined up with 4,000 other children ready to run the 2km race.
“He was so excited,” said Janet.
As the gun went off, the young runner, who is the Swiss Group of International Schools’ cross country champion, led the charge, eventually crossing the line first, and breaking the tape.
“That moment is something he will never forget,” said Janet.
Later the schoolboy, who has had a passion for running since he was five, met former Olympic hurdler Colin Jackson and athletes Richard Kilty and Emilie Diamond.
Zak’s mum, Janet, who teaches PE at a Swiss international school, said he could not believe his luck.
“He is still talking about it,” she said. “In fact we all are. The whole event was just so inspiring and meeting some sporting heroes was the icing on the cake. They could not have been nicer. They took time to chat with him, posed for photographs and signed his T shirt.”
As the signatures on his T-shirt eventually fade, the memories won’t.
“This will have a huge impact on his running,” said Janet.
More than 160,000 children throughout the world have now taken part in one of INEOS’ GO Run For Fun event.