We would like to congratulate Jez aka The Running Stormtrooper for successfully completing his epic challenge of running 1,000 miles in his armour this year and raising funds and awareness with every step for two charities very close to his heart - Make-A-Wish Foundation and Spread-a-Smile.
Alongside his full-time military career at RAF Benson, over the past four years Star Wars fanatic Jez Allinson has had an alter ego... Jez began his Running Stormtrooper Project in 2016 with the hope of raising £2,000 for Make-A-Wish through completing the London Marathon and has since undertaken many more challenges that continue to inspire - achieving a Guinness World Record and raising over £53,000 for charity in the process.
Jez understandably had to cancel or re-think many of his fundraising plans for this year, making it an even bigger challenge to hit his fundraising target and 1,000 miles for 2020. Despite this, Jez still enjoyed many highlights in his fundraising calendar, which inspired himself and others to keep moving.
The challenge started with a 10 mile run on New Year's Day, which was the first time he’d run in the costume in over 18 months - he’d forgotten just how uncomfortable it was running in such a rigid suit (which is said to be held together with white tape and crossed fingers!) but the challenge had begun.
As with any challenge there were ups, downs, highs and lows. In a contrast to powering through the storms of February, in April Jez was deployed to Afghanistan at an altitude of 6000 feet. Conditions were warm and dusty, not really ideal for running, let alone running in a Stormtrooper costume. Jez had intended to run indoors in an air-conditioned gym for the entire deployment but those had to close, which meant his target was missed for the first time ever. Though running was really hard at an altitude of over a mile high and runs had to be completed at night time when temperatures were more bearable, he kept up the challenge and over a quarter of his total miles were run in Afghanistan.
In September Jez ran 80km (50 miles) in 1 day to mark the 80th anniversary of The Battle of Britain, splitting the distance over 4 legs of 12.5 miles throughout the day, finishing at just before midnight. This was also the month that Jez was nominated for an ITV Pride of Britain Award - Fundraiser of The Year.
Another high was completing the Virtual London Marathon in October, which involved running 52 laps of a half mile loop at RAF Benson. Many of us will remember the weather was terrible that weekend, and despite a long journey on his own, with no crowds or support able to attend, Jez was rewarded for his efforts with a new marathon PB 4 minutes faster than his Guinness World Record time!
However, the 80km run followed by the marathon took its toll and Jez was then unable to run throughout November due to a foot injury, which made completing the challenge before Christmas even tougher. Although frustrating, the rest was welcome before a big month to complete the 1,000 miles on 20th December.
The final run was due to start where Star Wars began (Elstree Studios) to finish where Star Wars is now (Pinewood), but unfortunately plans had to change at short notice due to further restrictions being announced. On Saturday Jez’s final run of 18 miles took place at the RAF Benson base and finished adjacent to the Spitfire Gate Guardian.
Despite the toughness of the year, Jez smashed his goal and raised over £25,000 this year which takes his grand total to over a staggering £53,000 for Make-A-Wish and Spread a Smile - two amazing charities who share a common bond of trying to make a difference to poorly children / young adults and their families.
We were honoured to create a commemorative print with Make-A-Wish Foundation to mark his amazing achievement.
All the best for your future challenges Jez!