MAD Challenges, a small Scottish non-profit organisation, is turning the whole notion of sponsoring a runner to take part in an endurance event on its head.
For them, sponsorship is still about ‘change’, but not the ‘change’ in your pocket.
Rather than just the runner doing all the hard work – and the sponsor handing over cash when the race is over – competitors taking part in a MAD Challenges event ask their sponsors to make small, positive changes to their lives instead.
Sponsors’ pledges can be for the good of their environment, their health or their pocket – or better yet, all three.
To help them choose what type of change to make, MAD Challenges points potential sponsors towards the Do Nation platform
, which offers dozens of very clear and specific suggestions, like cycling to work, eating less meat, switching to a green energy supplier or going vegan for a few meals a week for two months.
As co-founder Dave Bell told runABC Scotland: “Do Nation enables us to build our events around taking action, but it’s the wider and larger ‘ripples of change’ that these actions create, which we try to focus our efforts on.
“It’s all about creating a wider positive impact from individual changes.”
MAD Challenge’s next event is MAD Seat 2019 (31 May–1 June), an endurance event where participants have to climb Arthur's Seat, Edinburgh, as many times as they can in a day.
Participants can choose from three time-length options – 24, 12 and 6 hours – then go for as many, or few, ascents as they like. There'll be a base camp with plenty of good food, warm drinks, great support and sneaky nap spots for the whole time.
Bell added: “We created our events as a way to strengthen our connections with the people and world around us, and a way to focus on the changes that actually matter to us. But they’re also a way to make this whole ‘saving the planet’ thing fun.”
That Bell and his colleagues at MAD Challenges are determined to help encourage positive change by their own actions is clear. The organisation has been a stalwart supporter of the 2018 Year of Young People, a campaign led by Young Scot. Most notably, the group helped the South Queensferry Scouts Group prepare for MAD Seat 2018, by running an activities evening for them in the lead-up to the event and welcoming 12 of them to participate in the six-hour challenge.
MAD Challenges were also selected as one of Scotland's '100 disrupters' – a competition set up by the Hunter Foundation
to award 100 grants of £1000 to individuals or groups of young people who are positively disrupting Scotland.
And as if further proof were needed of their commitment to positive change, Bell’s colleague and co-founder, Meredith Adams, on behalf of MAD Challenges, is one of three finalists in the Environment category in the Young Scot Awards. She’ll find out tonight (Friday, 30 November) if she has won.
Image: Courtesy MAD Challenges