7.30pm Friday 29th June will see the first group of runners set off from outside City Hall, London in an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the world’s longest, continuous running relay.
For 30 days and 30 nights, up to 2,500 random strangers will unite to be part of the I MOVE LONDON RELAY, running 5km and 10km legs to reach the collective goal of 4,000 miles.
What’s more Sported has been chosen, alongside The Running Charity and Laureus Sport for Good, as one of the event’s official charity partners. We catch up with the event’s organiser Danny Bent to find out more…
In today’s political, cultural and economic landscape, why is an event like the I Move London Relay so important?
“Whether it’s gang violence or rival political ideas like Brexit, there’s a feeling of deepening divisions and polarisation happening in London. I am generally someone who looks for goodness and positivity in places, so it’s not something I want to be feeling in the place I call home – that’s the driving force behind this.
It’s also about shining a light on all the positive stories and people out there. Yes, there are things happening in London – and across the UK – that are not good, but all the amazing stories can sometimes get forgotten by the press. The people running the grassroots groups and movements, which we’re raising money for, are doing it because they care for humanity and feel the need to do it. Those are the people who we should be celebrating on the front pages of the newspapers every day.
Positivity is contagious. The opposite of that is also true. If you always talk about negative things, the negative feelings and emotions grow inside of you. Whereas, if you walk around with a smile on your face, talk to strangers and take everyone for the best version of themselves, then that starts to rub off on you and, consequentially, rubs off on everyone around you.
So let’s create a little spark of positivity, get everyone together, get everyone smiling, laughing and engaging with the communities around them!
One of the great things about the Relay is going to be people passing the baton to people who they’d never normally come into contact with in everyday life. I’d encourage everyone running to take that moment to say hello, give them a hug or a high five and get a little sense of what it’s like to be them.
One of my favourite times living in London was during the Olympics. I loved the way it got people talking and reaching out to each other and having conversations they might not normally have. Hopefully we can replicate a little part of that through this event.”
What are your aspirations for the event?
“Starting off, it will be great if we take that baton around 4,000 miles and break the World Record. But my real passion and drive is to unite London, communities and individuals, and break down some of the barriers that are hindering our lives.
It’s also about raising funds for the people who are doing incredible things and improving the lives of the young people of our city. That’s a pretty amazing thing to be part of. At the end of the relay I want to sit down with the people that have been involved and our partner ASICS, and be proud of what we’ve achieved. Going to visit these projects is one of the highlights so far – the realisation of the extent people are helping other people is absolutely amazing.”
You’ve been voted one of the 100 happiest people in the UK according to the Independent on Sunday. How important an ingredient is movement and physical activity in your life?
“I come from this super sporty family. I know 100% that sport has been one of the things that has made me the human being I am today. When I was seven years old, I’d go to my friends’ houses and ask ‘What time does your Dad go for his run?!’ It’s so ingrained in my life, it starts to represent life itself.
As I get older, I’m starting to realise all the things that it’s done for me. Say, when you’re feeling frustrated or stressed, it helps you to release that negative energy and emotions. It’s calming and meditative…it makes you breath. It’s the respect you have for yourself in your physicality and in your mentality. It’s not about winning races, it’s about being the best version of you, you can be.”
The London Relay is raising money for Sported, The Running Charity and Laureus Sport for Good. Why did you choose the Sport for Development sector as the beneficiary?
“I know through Project Awesome how powerful movement can be. I’ve had people cry on my shoulder and know people who are using it to overcome mental health, physical and social issues.
People turn up to Project Awesome or Sported member groups because they fancy running or taking part in sport, but they stay because of the community.
We are all human beings. It’s not been long enough yet since we were all in tribes. We haven’t evolved away from the need and want of social connections to other people. For example, lots of these young people who are involved in gangs are just looking for somewhere to belong. Local sport clubs, community youth groups and charities offer a positive alternative where young people can meet like-minded individuals, express their energy in a positive way and get a supportive network around them.
This experience is really showing me how much more can be achieved by getting people moving and treating people with respect. I want to give other people the opportunities I was given as a kid to be part of these type of communities and movements.”
We want as many of Sported members, volunteers and friends to be part of this amazing movement as possible. So if you have been inspired by Danny’s story and would like to carry the baton by running either a 5km or 10km leg of the I MOVE LONDON RELAY, you can still sign up by visiting www.londonrelay.co.uk