Go further than ever before and I'll plant a tree for you

Last year I wrote a book about breaking the world record for the fastest bicycle crossing of Europe. It's been #1 on various Amazon sales charts and has sold more copies than I dared hope when I published it.

From training for my various races and events, I know how good it is to have a target - some goal that scares you, but which gives you the motivation to get out of the door and work. A great target is something that feels far too big to do today, but which you know you'll manage soon if you put the effort in.

Let's put these two things together.

In 2021, I'm going to take £1000 from my book sales and use it to challenge you to the Treeathlon. All you have to do is swim, cycle, run or wheel further than you have ever done before and send me some evidence. When you do this, I'll plant a tree for you. I'll keep planting trees until I run out of money.

The details

What do I have to do?

Swim, run, cycle or wheel further than you've ever done before. Send me the proof (ideally on Twitter or, if you don't want anybody to notice, you can email me). I'll pay for a tree to be planted for you as long as there's money left in the pot.

To be clear: despite the brilliance of the name Treeathlon, this isn't actually a triathlon. You only need to do one activity. No need to swim, cycle and run. Just do your longest-ever swim, or your longest-ever bike ride or whatever. That's it.


This all starts 1 February 2021. Whatever you've done up to that date is your benchmark; you need to go further than ever before after that date to get a tree. There's no closing date: we'll keep this going until the money runs out. So you can probably make this a Spring or Summer challenge to yourself.

What sort of evidence do I need?

Let's face it, I'm pretty much going to take you at your word. But ideally it'd be good to see a GPS record on a site like Strava, Garmin Connect, Mapmyrun or whatever. Sites like these let you share your activities and usually also keep a log of your longest activities to date. For example, here's what I see when I look at my cycling history on Garmin connect:

It doesn't matter how far your furthest activity is - it just has to be further than you've ever gone before.

Ideally, what I'd like is a link to your activity and a link to your profile or a screengrab (like the one above) to show that it's really your longest activity. But as I say, if you tell me you've done it, I'm basically going to believe you. The worst that happens if you try to cheat is that a tree gets planted and sucks up a tonne of carbon. OH NO.

Basically, go further than before and show me somehow. That's it.

Can I do this over and over?

No. Just one tree per person. This is supposed to be a big one-off challenge to yourself. No running 1 km tomorrow, 1.1 km the day after, 1.2 km the next day... Or, at least, if you do this then you should only tell me about one of them.

Who will plant the tree?

The trees are going to be planted by Trees not Tees, who specialize in greening sports events, and so who are ideal for this job.

But I'm totally unfit/I'm not a runner/I'm not a cyclist

No problem! If you're new to this, and a one-kilometre jog would be further than you've ever gone before, that's perfect. It totally counts. Go and do it.

But I once ran the London marathon...

Well done! That's an amazing achievement. Why not find out how it feels to run 27 miles? Better yet, make it 50k and become an ultramarathon runner :)

Where did this idea come from?

I've been wanting for a long time to think of some way to get people to take on new physical challenges. But if I'm honest, it mostly started with the pun "Treeathlon", and I worked backwards from there.

It's not meant to be easy