Woman who started Run for Heroes 5K challenge says they are close to £5 million

If you’ve been on Instagram since lockdown began, you have probably been tagged in at least one post by a friend nominating you to run 5K.

It’s a really simple challenge – run 5K, donate £5 to the NHS and nominate 5 friends to do the same – but the idea has gone viral and absolutely everyone is getting involved.

The woman behind the viral Run for Heroes challenge is 27-year-old documentary maker Olivia Strong, who started with the humble ambition of raising £5,000, but now finds herself with masses of celeb support on the verge of £5 million, all going towards the NHS charities.

Olivia, from Edinburgh, has been absolutely blown away by the response to her idea, and can’t quite believe that more than 800,000 people have taken part so far – including celebrities from Sir Mo Farah, to Princess Eugenie and Ellie Goulding.

‘I was inspired by two things; the NHS staff I knew working around the clock, and my friends and family that wanted to do more to help,’ Olivia tells Metro.co.uk.

Run for Heroes thank people for contributing

‘I’ve always been an advocate that 5K is a good distance to run and feel a sense of achievement, so if we could incorporate that with helping the NHS, collectively we could hopefully make a difference.’

Olivia says it has been incredible watching the campaign grow and extend all over the world. She has seen people getting involved from Tokyo to Toronto.

Olivia is now aiming to hit the target of £5 million, and has raised more than £4.5 million already. On 14 April a massive £477,480 was raised in a single day, smashing the Virgin Money Giving record.

‘I want to say a massive thank you to everyone who has taken part so far,’ says Olivia. ‘Really – from all of us working on the campaign, I can’t thank you enough for continuing to run, donate and nominate.’

‘The campaign wouldn’t have managed to raise the amount it has without each individual backing it and getting involved. If I could give each one of the million runners who have participated a social distance hug – I would. But for now it’ll have to be a virtual one!’

The best thing about the challenge is that it is accessible for everyone. If running is not for you, you can cycle or just walk 5K, and anyone can donate via the Run For Heroes Virgin Money Giving page.

‘All the NHS staff are working so incredibly hard to ensure we’re all kept safe and healthy right now, so the least we can do is try to make their lives a little easier,’ says Olivia. ‘This whole campaign, from start to finish, has shown that when people come together for a worthwhile cause they can make a big difference to other people’s lives.’

If you’re going above and beyond to raise money for a good cause during the lockdown, we want to hear from you.