Stepping up to the charity challenge

Written by Damian Carvill on March 8, 2019

I write this with absolutely zero hyperbole when I say that March couldn’t have come soon enough.

February was a great month for stickee, don’t get me wrong. We signed up Apple as a client on a long-term deal among other achievements. However it was much more grueling month for myself and five colleagues as we took on a charity challenge that almost broke us.

When we were asked whether we would like to take part in the Princes Trust Future Steps charity challenge for February, it seemed like a good idea: Teams of six walk a minimum of 10,000 steps a day to raise money for a worthwhile charity, which helps young people get into jobs, training and education.

What we didn’t bargain for was a dislocated shoulder, swollen knees, twisted ankles, blisters and bruised egos.

stickee’s team of six were quickly assembled albeit with cunning strategy in mind:

  1. Kristina Christova, Data Analyst and the most active and competitive person in the company
  2. Damian Carvill, Comparison Director; pretty active and hugely competitive with Karl
  3. Karl Binder, CTO; loves a challenge and thinks he’s better than Damian
  4. Dan Richards, Business Development Director; has never turned down a challenge
  5. James Orton, Digital Director; team player and loves winding up Dan
  6. Giles Brown, Head of Operations; an active team player

28 days later and the band of merry steppers were a broken team of blistered and beaten brothers and sisters. We ditched the car and walked, we played football and basketball after work, we ran, we cycled and one of us even set off at 5am to walk 18 miles to the office.

It was the game of basketball that resulted in a dislocated shoulder for the team’s talisman, Kristina, who was averaging 30,000 steps a day and even had a treadmill named after her at the local gym. After a night spent in A&E, she was back on it and didn’t let her injuries dampen her spirit or her step count. Not all superheros wear capes; some wear running shoes.

With one week to go we were sitting pretty in the top 10. With 714 teams taking part we had to pinch ourselves that we were doing as well as were. With the finishing line in sight, the team began getting competitive with itself as it began thinking about who had contributed the most team steps.

James wanted to beat Dan, who wanted to have a rest and Karl wanted to beat Dan, who still wanted to rest, while Damian wanted to fend off a late challenge from James and Giles, who wanted to beat off the flu. With two days to go, James pulled off the most impressive day of the month so far, hitting a total of 49k steps. He knew that this would spur Kristina on and it did as she broke the 50k steps in a day mark on the final day.

So how did we do? Let me break down some stats for you.

  • We have raised £355 so far, which stickee will match fund to produce at least £710 in total donations. Again, thank you to everyone who donated and jeered us on
  • Our team finished 8th out of 714 teams
  • We shattered the 1.68m steps target and walked, ran, swam, cycled and crawled 3,515,333 steps in total during February
  • We averaged 125,547 steps a day

So what did our team members make of the month?

James Orton:

Initially I only entered the competition so I could compete with Dan, but I have really enjoyed the challenge and it has helped me to improve my fitness so much. Before the start of the month my daily average was about 3,500 steps but this month I have managed to average over 19,000 steps a day, which I am really happy with! It has inspired me to keep it up and start to train for some long distance runs… but first I am going to do as little steps as I can for a few days so that my girlfriend can stop complaining that she is a “walking widow”.

Damian Carvill:

I thought this would be a walk in the park. And technically it was, but I wasn’t quite prepared for the relentless nature of the challenge. Aside from going for walks at 10pm, the aching legs and the need for a new pair of trainers, the thing that I’ll remember most is how we came together as a team and spurred each other on to get the steps in during the month. I’m confident this will change my behaviour in the long term and I’ll be walking to the shops instead of driving. Well, perhaps not during March.

Giles Brown:

This has changed me. Spending so much time walking allowed me to ponder life’s big questions. “Why am I here?” and “Where am I going?”. I enjoyed the long purposeful hikes out and about and listening to podcasts.  It was only the advice from Coach Karl “Just don’t come last” and the WhatsApp comradery that helped me do those extra laps around the block.

I thought the challenge would be easy – I was already walking several miles a day answering the office door to parcel delivery men! Despite having to ditch my plan to strap the fitbit on my 4 year old and feed him sugar, I got off to a good start. By the end of the first week it came as quite a shock to learn that the challenge was to last all month. I ate too much, my legs ached and I missed my family. The end of the challenge was a huge relief.

Well done to every one of my teammates.

Just a walk in the park. At 11pm. In the Dark. Wandering. Endlessly.

Dan Richards:

It’s been a real rollercoaster if a rollercoaster was walking pace and the scenery was either the gym or the streets of Birmingham. What surprised me about the challenge is that is was more of a mental challenge than a physical one – could you motivate yourself to do a little bit more. Overall, it’s been worth it, I feel fitter and being part of a team that’s done over 3.5 million steps and finished in the top 10 is a real honour. All my teammates have shown fantastic determination and I applaud them all.

Kristina Christova:

I like walking, but it was bloody unpleasant.

Karl Binder:

It’s safe to say that I’m amongst the laziest men in Birmingham. I’d be lucky to top 1,000 steps a day walking from my house to the car and my car to the office and back again. In fact, the most exercise I’d do in a day was moving my laptop from desk-to-desk around the office, which I tend to do on an hourly basis. This challenge changed all of that for me and I caught the exercise bug. I went to the gym, I walked the kids to school and I ditched the car at lunchtime in favour of walking to the chip shop. In fact, all this extra exercise has allowed me to eat more of what I’m not allowed to eat and for that, I would like to salute the Princes Trust and thank them for giving me a modicum of joy at the end of a month of hell. Cheers.

On serious reflection, this was a tougher challenge than we anticipated and to have come through this as a team with humour, with commitment, without cheating, scoring a top ten finish and raising money for a wonderful charity is an amazing achievement.

I think this tremendous team of six encapsulates what stickee’s all about: graft hard, work as a team, never give up, apply a sprinkle of gentle banter and you’ll get your rewards; like we did with Apple.

Thanks again to all of you who donated and thanks to our team; I’m proud of you.

For more information on the Princes Trust, please visit https://www.princes-trust.org.uk/
To donate to our team, please visit our Just Giving page.