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“£500,000 raised for every half hour I ran”

Steve Chalke MBE, 55, founder of the charity Oasis, has spent the last 15 years running and raising money for charity, putting him in the record books. He spoke to Christine Fieldhouse

In my 20s I got married, in my 30s, along came the children, when I reached 40 I realised I wasn’t

immortal and I needed to do a bit more to keep the extra pounds at bay. “My schedule is chaotic – I fly all over

the world and have early starts most days thanks to my work at Oasis, which provides educational, healthcare and housing initiatives in the UK and throughout the world. I needed an exercise that would fit in with all of that. In the end there was only one, and that was running.

Getting started “I live in Croydon with my wife Cornelia and our four children, Emily, Daniel, Abigail and Joshua, and I began training on a three-mile route near our home in 1999. A friend started coming with me, then others joined us. Even though Joe, my friend, has moved away, we still have about six who run 10 or so miles at 7am every Sunday. “My first big race was the Tunbridge

Wells Half Marathon in February 2000. Because I’m busy I don’t read half the stuff I should, and I hadn’t realised that at about six miles there was this gradient that was about a mile and a half long. What a shock! I finished in 1:40. “My next big step was the London

Marathon in April 2000, which I did in 3:58. I was speaking in Nottingham the next day so I drove up virtually straight after the race. When I got to Nottingham, I couldn’t get out of the car. I couldn’t move and I could barely cross my legs! “Since then I’ve done 11 marathons – all London ones, apart from New York in


2004 and Chicago in 2009. My best marathon time is London 2005 which I did in 3:44. I keep all my medals in my sock drawer! I got an MBE from the Queen in 2004 for my services to social inclusion and that’s in the same drawer!

Record-breaker “Not only was the 2005 London Marathon my best time, it was also the year I became the Guinness World Record holder for the largest amount of sponsorship money ever raised by an individual through a single event. The previous holder was a businessman who had raised £1million. “I went to see a lot of people with my

business plan and managed to raise £1.25m for Oasis’s Academies programme. A year later Sir Steve Redgrave got the title by raising £1.75m, then in 2007 I got it back by raising £1,841,138 in just under four hours – that’s half a million pounds for every half hour I ran.

Fitting it all in “My performance times are always better when I’ve put the training in beforehand and I run on mornings when I don’t have an appointment before 9am. “Often, though, other opportunities

crop up and my training gets shelved for another day – for example, this morning I was invited on to the Chris Evans Radio 2 Pause for Thought slot in my role as senior minister of Christ Church and Upton, now known as London Waterloo. Chris asked me about the work of Oasis so that was an opportunity I couldn’t miss. “But when I travel abroad I always

pack my running shoes and I get out as often as I can. I’m just back from Africa – Oasis works in several African countries – and I had some good runs out there. I’m also a special advisor on Human Trafficking for the United Nations, have presented television series and I write parenting and church leadership columns so running is a perfect exercise for my schedule. “My next big challenge comes after Running Free has gone to press – I’ll be in this year’s London Marathon and hoping to raise more than £2million for Oasis. I’m already the fastest-earning sportsperson in history, and I’m aiming to beat my own record!”

■ For more information about Oasis or to sponsor Steve you can visit

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