Running for refugees: 100 half marathons in one year

UK for UNHCR supporter Joe Griffiths tells us about pushing himself to the limit, fundraising for refugees and eating enough pasta for several lifetimes.



How far would you go to help refugees? UK for UNHCR supporter, teacher and master’s degree candidate Joe Griffiths takes fundraising for refugees to a whole new level.

We spoke to Joe about his incredible challenge, supporting UK for UNHCR and his advocacy work.  

Q: Thank you so much for supporting us! Can you tell us about your challenge? 

A: My challenge is to run 100 half marathons (21.1 kilometres!) in one year. I started my challenge on the 19th September 2020 and intend to complete the challenge on the 19th September 2021. Furthermore, alongside several running events, I plan to run the virtual London Marathon! So far, I have completed 56 half marathons and eaten more than my fair share of pasta! 

The next time you are about to pass up an opportunity because it makes you uncomfortable, remember that comfort is the enemy of progression!

Q: What inspired you to support UK for UNHCR?  

A: Back in September, I was enlightened about ‘Run 4 One’ and One Bag Full, a fantastic organisation effectuating transformative actions for the Langa community, a township near Cape Town. The challenge was to run a half marathon and make a donation to help feed the Langa community.  

After the run, I was inspired to continue to support those less fortunate than I, which led me to UK for UNHCR’s ‘#TheExtraMile’ challenge. The challenge was to run a virtual half marathon; however, I wasn’t satisfied. Thereafter, I took on my own challenge! The rest, as I’m told, is history! 

Fundraising for refugees

Q: 100 half marathons in one year is a huge feat! What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them? 

A: It is certainly a huge feat, perhaps, something I did not quite appreciate until I got going! My enjoyment of sports, additionally, my role as a teacher of exercise and sport sciences, has given me a handy background in all things training and nutrition.  

My biggest challenge is finding enough time to run! In addition to my role as a teacher, I am currently studying my master’s degree. Maybe I was born under a lucky star, but I am certainly an early bird! I often run before embracing the London Underground rush hour. That being said, I also enjoy running in the evening, especially now the clocks have gone forward!  

Q: What is the best part of fundraising?  

A: Making more noticeable the perspectives of those groups who are disadvantaged and underrepresented in society. Advocacy will only persist in being effective as long as it is ingrained in the social behaviour of those who are responsible. My experience living and teaching in South Africa, moreover, volunteering in Tanzania, triggered my interests in advocacy to influence governments, non-governmental partners and my friends and family to adopt practices that ensure the protection of those in need.  

Q: How have you used your educational background to help people who have been forcibly displaced?  

A: My master’s degree has encouraged me to reflect critically on my own engagement and interest in development education, global learning and global citizenship and how they link to broader educational debates, such as those related to education quality, aid and development, sustainable development, poverty and global inequality. Development education in refugee education has experienced very little attention. This is in part due because it is a challenge to become involved in educational quality and the practice of teaching without suggesting external notions in a way that neglects the context or circumstances surrounding the topic.  

Refugees and migrants in the media are depicted as perpetrators of misconceptions, but using a dialogic approach to learning (i.e. through collaborative behaviour!), teachers can facilitate an environment to support learners to address, discuss and provide information about prejudiced ideas. 

Q: Do you have any tips and advice for people who want to help but don’t know where to start?  

A: The next time you are about to pass up an opportunity because it makes you uncomfortable, remember that comfort is the enemy of progression!


Want to learn more about fundraising for refugees? Please visit our website.

To support Joe, please visit his GivePenny page here.

For the latest facts and figures on displaced families around the world, visit the UNHCR data portal.


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