Peter’s fundraising story
“I ran 44 marathons, in 44 countries, in 44 days”
During 2018, Peter Thompson raised over £23,000 for mental health charities by running the entire route of the 2018 Tour de France – an incredible feat which saw him cover more than 2,000 miles over 68 days. Here he talks us through his epic fundraising journey.
“Mental health is a cause that really matters to me because I’ve had quite a few friends and family members who have suffered from mental health issues. I’ve seen first-hand how it impacts their lives and affects everyone around them.
In 2010 I ran my first London Marathon to raise money for Mind, a mental health charity that has supported many people I know. My ‘Marathons for the Mind’ project came after a period when I’d become a bit too obsessed with running, which had started to affect my relationships with people and made me think more clearly about my own mental health. I wanted to use my running in a different way – to make friends, to be part of a community and to make a difference to others.”
Keep on runnin’
“For the first ‘Marathons for the Mind’ challenge last year, I ran 44 marathons in 44 countries in 44 days – that’s a marathon in every country in Europe, which involved many, many hours of planning. In 2018 I set off with a seven-week head start on the riders and ran the entire 2,082-mile Tour de France – and made it to the finish line before them.
It took 68 days in total, running over 30 miles a day on average and climbing the equivalent of Mount Everest five times. I was able to raise over £23,000 for Mind, Dorset Mind and Livability. How did I do it? Well, I’ve got a very competitive nature and I’m incredibly stubborn, but the success was by no means only down to me.”
Run for your money
“For my first challenge I tried to get each country sponsored, and for this one I tried to get each stage of the Tour sponsored by local companies. I offered to put their contact details on my website and mention the company when I ran that stage. It worked really well and helped raise a good chunk of the fundraising before I started the challenge.
There was also lots of asking for help from friends and families, and trying to call in favours – for example, a friend of a friend who owned a media company made me a little promo video, which was great for social media.
Social media played a huge role. It’s a great way to show off what you’re doing, the reason you’re doing it, and how the money will be spent. It connects people to what you’re doing in an innovative way. And Virgin Money Giving also made a big difference. I couldn’t realistically write down all the names on paper and then go round and collect the money afterwards. Now people can click on a link and donate, which makes it so easy for fundraisers.”
A little help from my friends…
“I had so much support from people who came out to support me, or to run with me at certain points. And my girlfriend was there every step of the way. She drove and met me every ten kilometres, where I’d have a drink and a rest, so I was always focused on reaching that next ten kilometre mark.
And before I went to France I had so much help from so many people. My dad was hugely instrumental in getting companies onboard to sponsor stages. One friend helped a huge amount putting together the route with me.”