5 June 2020

YMCA East Surrey’s first-ever Virtual Fun Run took place throughout the month of May and proved a huge hit.

186 adults and 122 juniors signed up to run or walk either one or five miles, alone or with family, raising money for YMCA East Surrey’s Coronavirus Appeal.

“2020 marks our 150th year and we were so disappointed to realise that the annual Fun Run would not be able to take place in Reigate’s Priory Park at the beginning of May,” says Chief Executive, Ian Burks.

“We felt that the Virtual Fun Run gave us a way to offer the same encouragement as always to stay active and foster a love of exercise among local people of all ages. The response has been fantastic.”

To date, the event has raised £12,264 through sponsorship and the figure is still increasing. This amount includes a huge £4,901 which was raised by Tri Surrey from their Relay Challenge.

Virtual Fun Runners received a YMCA Challenge 150 Commemorative medal on completing their run and the first 150 adults to take part and donate were given a free YMCA Challenge 150 technical t-shirt.

Reigate and Banstead’s outgoing Mayor, Cllr Keith Foreman, covered the five-mile distance in 46 minutes and 15 seconds on 1st May in support of the local charity.

Emma Jones, YMCA East Surrey’s Health and Wellbeing Manager, ran her 5 miles during one lunch hour. She says:

“The Fun Run encourages everyone to take part. Whether you are a keen runner or completely new to running, there is an option for everyone. This year, the YMCA Virtual Fun Run was more important than ever, distracting some people from the challenges they’ve faced during this pandemic and, for others, giving them a focus to start their physical activity goals.”

Liam Preston, 34, has never entered a Fun Run before and he agrees:

“I wanted to look back on lockdown and feel like I had achieved something. The YMCA Virtual Fun Run gave me a goal to start working towards and knowing it was for a good cause made it even more fulfilling. I ran 35 miles in May which for someone who didn’t run a mile last year, feels like such a big lifestyle change. I’m running a few times a week now and it’s all down to this challenge. I feel fitter and I’ve helped people in the community. I’ll definitely be back next year!”

Seven-year-old Theo attends the YMCA East Surrey Yippee playscheme for children with disabilities and complex needs. He completed the one-mile challenge despite his new splints rubbing a blister on his ankle.

“Theo is so proud of the £203 he has raised, and he loves his medal!” says mum, Laura Palmer.

“Work has not ceased at YMCA East Surrey over the last couple of months,” says Ian Burks. “We continue to support young people at risk of homelessness and provide remote counselling for those who are struggling with their mental health. Our Health and Wellbeing team are helping vulnerable Exercise Referral members to workout at home and our Children’s Services team has been busy supporting families who are caring for a child or young person with disabilities.”

“The money raised from the YMCA Virtual Fun Run will go to our frontline work with vulnerable people who are being directly affected by the current crisis.”

YMCA East Surrey is already looking forward to next year’s Fun Run event which will be held in Priory Park, Reigate on Sunday 2 May 2021.