“Virtual marathons” replace real runs in fundraising for animal welfare

Fatima Whitbread and her dog, Bertie.

A virtual run supported by Olympic athletes Fatima Whitbread, Roger Black, Helen Clitheroe and Jamie Baulch is asking animal lovers to take part in a ‘Rescue Run’ over the marathon distance of 26.2 miles in aid of homeless, abandoned, sick and injured pets.

Launched by leading pet charity Blue Cross, the challenge of the Rescue Run is to move a mile or more a day to meet the target by running, jogging or walking – with or without a dog.

It costs £12 to sign up and supporters can top up with sponsorship and share on social media to take part within their home, garden or local community — whilst keeping themselves and others safe by social distancing. Everyone who completes the virtual marathon will receive a special Blue Cross medal and finishers certificate to acknowledge the difference they’ve made to pets in need.

Olympian, World and European Javelin Champion Fatima Whitbread MBE said the run was a fantastic way to keep fit whilst being part of a virtual community event, “with the added benefit of raising funds to help pets who are desperately in need of help right now”.

“My dog Bertie means the world to me. Our pets are so important, especially now when we are faced with such huge challenges to overcome in every aspect of our lives. Keeping fit and healthy whilst social distancing can be difficult, particularly because people cannot exercise together.”

World and European Champion and 400m Olympic medallist Roger Black MBE said virtual events allowed activity in a safe environment. “Although we are limited in what we can do outdoors at the moment, virtual events allow us to keep active whilst staying safe. My dog Howie is part of the family, but there are many pets out there who need Blue Cross’s help, so I am encouraging pet lovers to take on the challenge and sign up to Rescue Run.”

» Register now – places are limited to 750.

The 2.6 Challenge

The cancellation of thousands of events and the loss of billions in income through fundraising events has been a huge blow to charities, resulting in the launch of the 2.6 Challenge in Britain.

Already more than £10 million has been raised in the initiative that was launched on April 26. That should have been the day of the London Marathon, which is the world’s biggest one-day fundraising event; it raised more than £66.4 million for thousands of charities in 2019.

The 2.6 Challenge can be undertaken anywhere in the world, and charities worldwide are asking supporters for help, including The Gambia Horse and Donkey Trust. It is asking supporters to part in an activity of their choice based around the numbers 2.6 or 26 and fundraise or donate to support the Trust.

Bea Milne, administrator of The Gambia Horse and Donkey Trust, said people of all ages were taking on The 2.6 Challenge with a host of activities, “from walking, running or cycling 2.6 miles, juggling for 2.6 minutes, to holding online workouts with 26 friends. The ideas and options are endless!”

Milne said there were are just five simple steps to take:

  1. Dream up your 2.6 challenge – if you need help there are lots of ideas here.
  2. You can either donate £26 – or whatever you can afford ­– to The Gambia Horse and Donkey Trust, or you can set up your own fundraising page.
  3. Ask all your friends and family to sponsor you and challenge them to do their own 2.6 Challenge.
  4. Complete your challenge.
  5. Optionally, share a photo or video of your challenge on social media with #TwoPointSixChallenge.



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