Bideford woman Natasha Acres has won the top prize in the Brooks Running Runfulness competition, winning more than Â£70,000.
Tash bagged the $100,000 (Â£70,500) prize when her â€˜Earth Runsâ€™ project (www.earthruns.com) was selected as the best â€˜idea that changes a day, a life, or even the worldâ€™ from the entries submitted from around the world.
As a keen runner, Tash was intent on finding an alternative motivational programme to those fuelled by environmentally toxic giveaways like cheap medals and ill-fitting t-shirts.
It was while she was out running in the beautiful North Devon countryside that Tash came up with the idea of motivating runners not by giveaways but by marking their achievements by planting trees.
Instead of the usual giveaways, they could plant trees that would leave a legacy, fight global warming and help support the communities who do the planting.
For every race or challenge they do, they earn trees to be planted. Putting her idea into action, Tash launched earthruns.com during lockdown.
Each runner has an account where they can see the impact theyâ€™ve made with their miles and how many trees theyâ€™ve planted. For those that do like a keepsake, she also invented a biodegradable seeded medal that, once planted, grows wildflowers for the bees and other insects.
Since Earth Runsâ€™ lockdown launch, participants have already clocked up 11,932 miles and planted over 5,700 trees across 18 countries with runners completing over 1,600 races.
Matt Dodge, Managing Director at Brook EMEA said: â€œWe loved Natashaâ€™s idea, because it really has the power to change a day, a life or even the world and we are honoured to support her to bring her idea to life.â€
â€œWe all know we need to change the way we live to help the planet and live a more sustainable life. The most effective way to do this is take what we already do and adapt it so that the changes donâ€™t feel difficult but positive instead,â€ stresses Tash.
She goes on: â€œEarth Runs was set up on a budget to see if it could work. Now, with this amazing award there is the chance to do so much more. One of the first priorities is to build a programme to take into schools and youth clubs to help kids and young people see the positive impact they can create when they run. In fact, they donâ€™t even have to run.
â€œThey can walk, cycle or roll â€“ just keep going forward! They donâ€™t have to be the fastest, or the best - every one of them can still make a significant impact in the world by planting trees, and it helps their well-being too!â€
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