This follows a similar initiative by the Sports Service last year during the first national lockdown, which saw participants virtually 'climb' the approximate combined height of Mount Everest and the ShardUniversity of Cambridge Sport

On Monday (10/05), the University Sports Service launched this summer’s university-wide exercise challenge. Over the course of two months, the challenge will be to cover the distance from the Earth to the moon: 384,400km.

The start date of the challenge was scheduled to coincide with the first day of Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW), and will run to the 9th July, which marks the end of the Festival of Wellbeing week. This challenge is just one part of the University’s MHAW programme, whose events will be recorded and available for viewing.

Ashley Edwards, Marketing and Communications Manager at the Sports Service, told Varsity: “I think it’s well documented how exercise benefits physical and mental health, and we need good health now more than ever.”

“We wanted to create an activity that facilitates people exercising, but in a very accessible way. This challenge includes many forms of exercise and allows people to contribute however much they have the time or ability for. It really all counts! With the experience we have all shared over the past year or so, it’s great to be part of a challenge that, although remains physically distant, is still very much a collective effort of many people coming together. ”

Participants are encouraged to contribute to the distance online via Strava or manually via a webform, having walked, run, cycled, swam or wheelchair raced a given distance.

Progress towards the ambitious goal will be updated every Monday on the Sports Service’s social media platforms (twitter, facebook, instagram). In order to achieve the goal of reaching the moon, participants will have to cover at least the distance around the Earth (40,075km) every week.

In response to the scale of the challenge, Ashley commented, “it’s going to be a challenge for sure! We’ve set ourselves two targets, to travel around the earth and to get to the moon. Hopefully we will achieve the first even if we do then end up stuck out in space by falling short of the moon! The distance to the moon seemed like a great idea as we didn’t want something we would achieve after the first weekend.”


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Dr. Miriam Lynn, Equality and Diversity Consultant, also told Varsity of how it is “hugely inspiring to have a tangible goal that calls for us to act collectively as a University community. The pandemic has meant that for most of us we have been isolated from colleagues and have missed incidental non-work-related conversations – I’m already discussing this initiative with my line manager and seeing which of us is going to contribute the most.”

Responding to the issue of exam workload in the Easter Term, Ashley explained that they understand “people have certain commitments throughout the year and finding time for exercise can often be secondary to other things in your life. However, it is so important to make time for exercise and can even make you more productive in other tasks going on.”

The 2021 initiative comes just over a year after the Sports Service’s successful Virtual Climbing Challenge during the first national lockdown, which saw staff virtually climb the approximate combined height of Mount Everest and the Shard in twelve hours, achieving over 9,000 metres of ascent.

You can follow the Strava leaderboard here.