What drives 96 people, across multiple cities, to take part in a 28 day challenge in February, and cover 3216km across 568 activities? It certainly can’t be the weather!
We’ve all had our own reasons to immerse ourselves in the annual SJ Running Teams Challenge. Here we share three words from our members that have driven positive choices, along with reflections in their own words.
Motivation, noun, a reason or reasons for acting or behaving in a particular way. Let’s be honest, over the last 4 weeks one of the following has crossed our minds. I want to score points for the team. I want bragging rights on Sunday night. Wow he managed to get out, so can I! Look back and think, what was my Why, and call upon it over the weeks and months ahead.
Social, noun, an informal social gathering, especially one organised by the members of a particular club or group. At SJ Running we recognise that to remove barriers into participation, we need to tap into the values that run deep through our community, none more so than the social. Running occupies a unique position as being one of the most individual activities but also the biggest team activity as well. Knowing very well that your brothers in faith will be there with you, whether it be on a Wednesday night or a Sunday morning, keeps that fire burning alive. The spirit of brotherhood ensuring we all continue to move forward together, the chai being a helpful addition.
Platform, noun, an opportunity to voice one’s views or initiate action. For many the challenge was the perfect opportunity to give them that long overdue ‘leg up’. Something from which to finally be able to build on and move forward. But the key now is not to waste your gains. There is countless evidence in scientific literature that shows every time you let slip a positive health change, the next time you want to scale your mountain it becomes that much more harder. Keep the flame burning through the fuel of consistency so you don’t have to scale Kilimanjaro every 6 months.
And while we call this the Teams Challenge, for years we have known the only person you are truly competing with, every day, is yourself.
Plain. And. Simple
“A huge thanks to the SJ Running team for allowing us Brummies to be a part of the teams challenge. Over the last couple of years, the Birmingham community under the banner of MSC have taken part in various SJ activities and huge credit to the SJ leadership team over the years who have created this welcoming environment that transcends beyond the SJ borders. I only started running in November so the teams challenge came at the right time for me. A couple of firsts for me as a result.. 1st Park run, 1st early morning run. InshaAllah hope to run together with you guys one day, as we did with cycling. A special shout out to Ali Momin who always had words of encouragement for me, May Allah swt bless you for all your efforts.” Hussein Jaffer (Shenu)
“When I heard the SJ running challenge was coming back, I was really excited. Unfortunately, my routine of going for runs & walks had lapsed and this is exactly what I needed to get back on track. The banter on the WhatsApp group and the anticipation on results day to see which team had won, gave me the drive to go out for runs on my own. But even better than that was when we organised group runs. It didn’t matter what the weather was like or how tired I was feeling – we all motivated each other to push ourselves that bit harder. I even managed to go for a park run which I hadn’t done in a long time! Overall, it was a brilliant challenge and I’m hoping it’s given me the push to keep the routine going forward. Thank you SJ Coordinators – I’m looking forward to the next one!” Mustafa J Muraj
“The SJ running challenge was a very enjoyable experience. Although I run during the week I have not done many group runs and it was an amazing experience to meet up and run on a Sunday and then share a breakfast. Sometimes it was so intense that I even encouraged my wife for a 3km walk before the 8pm deadline in the rain on a Sunday. Thank you SJ running team for your impeccable organisation and encouraging us to participate in this.” Mohamedhassan Merali
“Teams challenge came at the right time while the cold and miserable conditions were good excuses for not getting exercise and fresh air. It motivated me to do my bit and extend my walks, try harder on my runs. Doing this collectively gave an extra sense of purpose. It also gave me awareness of how many others are in the same boat. Thanks to SJ and the captains for organising this and of course to the active people on the WhatsApp groups for continuing to motivate us all. One wish I had was that I would have been able to attend a group run during the month but insha’Allah will join a few in the coming months.” Zaheer Abbas Merali
“This was my first year participating in the teams challenge and I thoroughly enjoyed it! I’d like to thank you all for making this happen especially those who have taken time out of their busy lives to plan and organise it so well, keeping us on our toes every week. I will miss the challenge, for me personally it has given me the extra push to get out more often than I do. It certainly has demonstrated to me that smaller regular activities are a lot more effective than the infrequent longer activities. It hasn’t taken long for life to resume back to its frantic pace and this last month has been good in reminding me how important it is to take time out on a regular basis for my own physical and mental health. The longer walks with family and solo have reminded me of the pandemic and the long lockdown walks that were so helpful at a time that was very difficult. The level of involvement is something that really surprised me especially with such a large group and when you see others getting out there you have the added imputes to fulfil your duty to the team, the sense of competition and banter was great in keeping the momentum going. In reflection the last month has summed up my short experience with SJ Running and what it has and continues to accomplish, establishing a strong sense of comradery and brotherhood to push each other to achieve new heights; to better ourselves individually and collectively; mentally and physically so that we can continue to serve our community in the best way possible and build on the legacy that legends before us have left.” Ali Abbas Hirji
“Honestly it’s been a tough and heavy week, and it didn’t bother me one iota at the start of this challenge as to whether our time won lost or drew. The last week demonstrated that life is short. And we need to thank Allah for everything he has given us, from health to friendships. 3 dear people from Stanmore passed away. Each of them will have touched our lives in many ways. We owe it to them and ourselves to support each other in every way we can. Whether that’s helping to motivate each other for a run, or finding out how each of us are doing or helping them in any which way you think is needed. On our group I also said the following and it’s worth repeating here. For me this challenge was about 3 things: 1) Banter, 2) Get out and be active and 3)Though 1 and 2, strengthen bonds of friendship and brotherhood. And it so happened that all these 3 things is what the Marhums did so well. Especially the third. SJ running facilitated us being able to achieve those 3 thing.” Jamil Merali
“SJ run/walk competition has made a huge impact in my weekly routine. I know once registered in my head, be it 5k or 10mile that I am capable of accomplishing that Target! With SJ many have done that so keep on doing what you do and let’s get healthier together samje ne.” Meissum Manji
“The running challenge was a great opportunity to compete against fellow brothers in achieving weekly goals, this motivated myself in going outdoors regardless of weather and pushing myself to be more active. I really enjoyed the challenges set by the organisers and I hope to participate in future events. I have definitely benefited from this competition and want to thank all my teammates for their great effort.” Kazim Noormohamed
“I have torn my calf muscle a few months back after getting back into sports following multiple lockdowns. The tear was very bad (grade 3), I was on crutches for 5 weeks. After a few months of physiotherapy I was ready to start running outdoors but I found it really hard and was not motivated to go out during the cold and rainy season. When I saw the post for the SJ running challenge I thought this might be the best opportunity to build and strengthen my torn muscle and get back into fitness. The physiotherapist asked me to do an interval run/walk and gradually increase the running minutes when I feel comfortable. The first week of SJ’s challenge was very hard for me as I have not run in over an year but with motivation from everyone in group I managed to complete the bare minimum requirement. As weeks went by I was doing more running than walking and felt I could push myself further. For the first time in years I managed to complete a 5K run. I wish we could continue the challenge for several more weeks to come. Having said that, this challenge gave me the motivation and dedication to run more often than I used to. I would to thanks all the organisers and participants in this event as it showed us we can accomplish and achieve unexpected collectively and together.” Imran Musawi
“Just under 2 years ago, SJ Running was formed to bring together runners of all abilities and encourage members to get out there, regardless of distance or pace. The most recent challenge had so many members of the community, local, national and international take part. Challenges are there to push people to achieve things they haven’t before. Similarly, the challenge in February was there for runners and walkers of all abilities to raise their bar, come out of their comfort zones and to get into some sort of rhythm. No one likes to lose so these 4 weeks were about getting out there and doing the best for your team. Not only bagging points yourself but also encouraging other team members to do the same. The banter in the group is what pushed people to achieve landmarks they would never have dreamed of achieving. Some ran their 5 and 10k PBs. Others completed 10 miles non-stop! Our team who were at risk of an ashes-style whitewash managed to pull their socks up and send ambassadors to the SJ group runs to ensure double points were secured! Alas, even though the challenge ended in a tie, the real winners were those who gave it their best shot. This last month, we have suffered as a community in losing young volunteers, teachers, friends and near ones. The take home in these difficult times is that we must stay strong as a community and support each other. What SJ continues to provide is that very essence of being part of one big family. We celebrate our achievements together as well as mourn and grieve together. For those who were new to this challenge, let’s continue the good habits you formed. Reach out to a friend, family member or neighbour and go out for that extra run, jog or walk. Look out for the group SJ runs and join in if you can. Don’t put off for tomorrow what you can do today. Let us remember our Marhumeen with a Sura Fateha.” Akil Kanani