Edinburgh runner who founded the 5k NHS challenge

Edinburgh runner who has raised almost £3 million for NHS workers with 5k challenge reveals how she came up with the idea during a jog around Arthur’s Seat and now dreams of raising £5 million

  • Olivia Strong, 27, from Edinburgh, started social media campaign for the NHS 
  • Job as a producer was dropped to two days a week amid the coronavirus crisis 
  • Came up with the ingenious fundraising idea while jogging around Arthur’s Seat
  • Urges people to run or walk 5km during lockdown practicing social distancing  
  • Then asks you to donate £5 and nominate five friends to do the same and share their runs on social media tagging @Run.For.Heroes to spread the word
  • Admitted she ‘had a cry’ when it topped £1 million, is now aiming for £5 million
  • Learn more about how to help people impacted by COVID

The Edinburgh runner who has raised almost £3 million for the NHS with her £5 for 5k challenge has revealed how she came up with the idea while jogging around Arthur’s Seat.

Olivia Strong, 27, from Edinburgh, was disappointed when her full-time producer job was dropped to two days a week amid the coronavirus crisis, and came up with the fundraising idea while running around the iconic landmark. 

She rushed home to launch the Run For Heroes social media campaign, which encourages people to use their daily outdoor exercise allowance to run, walk or cycle 5km whilst maintaining a safe distance from others. 

She reached her initial target of £5,000 in just four days, and told BBC Scotland she cried when the total reached £1 million.

She has now revealed how the next aim is to reach £5 million, saying: ‘It would be the dream to get to £5m. 5k to £5m would be the biggest success ever.’ 

Olivia Strong, 27, from Edinburgh, told BBC Scotland that she was inspired while jogging around Arthur’s Seat to create the £5 for 5k challenge

Olivia thought of the simple idea after her own full-time work as a producer was cut-back amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

She said she was keen to use her new time as productively as possible, and that she wanted to raise money for those people who need it the most.

Olivia revealed that she has friends who are junior doctors who are ‘working around the clock at the moment’ and wanted to put her creative skills to good use.

She was jogging around Arthur’s Seat in the city when she was inspired by other people out and about enjoying their daily exercise.

The 27-year-old said she was determined to help junior doctor friends who are currently ‘working around the clock’ to battle coronavirus

The 27-year-old saw many others out in the streets using their daily form of exercise to run, walk or cycle and it inspired her to harness that activity for good.

Olivia came up with the simple plan to encourage people to to run, walk or cycle 5km (3.1 miles), donate £5 to the NHS then nominate five others on social media to do the same.

All proceeds would be donated to NHS Charities Together – a national appeal which aims to protect the welfare of NHS staff and equip them to fight the virus. 

She rushed home and quickly set up an Instagram account for the page that afternoon, naming the campaign Run For Heroes.

Her campaign has caught the attention of a whole host of celebrities including Ellie Goulding, who complete her 5k challenge for the cause 

Initially Olivia shared the campaign with her loved ones in the UK and abroad, but it quickly grew as it was passed on through friendship groups and extended families around the world. 

Within four days, the campaign raised her initial target £5,000, attracting a mass of celebrity fans including Ellie Goulding, Lynsey Sharp and John Terry. 

The campaign is also being developed to showcase at-home workout options for those preferring to exercise indoors.

NHS workers expressed their thanks for the donations in a heart-warming video that was shared on the Run For Heroes Instagram.

Other celebrities who have taken part in the challenge including Made in Chelsea star Ollie Proudlock 

All participants are asked to donate £5 via the Run For Heroes giving page and then spread the message even further by sharing a picture of themselves exercising on Instagram, tagging @Run.For.Heroes. Pictured: Douglas Booth was another celebrity who took part in the challenge

Olivia said: ‘I am so grateful to everyone who has supported the cause so far and I hope that the thousands of generous donations will help to make our NHS workers’ lives a little easier.’

She said she remains in disbelief about the success of the fundraising challenge, saying: ‘Reaching £1m was a good moment, I really didn’t think that would happen. I had a little cry.’

Meanwhile yesterday the campaign reached the £2 million milestone, with a further £700,000 raised in just 24 hours.  

Her next goal is to reach her ‘dream milestone’ of £5 million , adding that everyone involved in the campaign is ‘really happy to see where it has gotten so far’.



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