Sam²: Our Leader Journey


On the 8th October, the Budapest Marathon team - made up of participants from multiple universities - returned from an awe-inspiring weekend in one of the cultural capitals of Europe. The team was exemplary. Everybody came away from the weekend and the year of fundraising with the highest of admiration for the leaders. In this blog, Sam² (ex-Challenge Leaders and Challenge Mentors) share their experiences from the recruitment process to the marathon itself.

After weeks of recruitment, Facebook posts, sliding into numerous DMs and drop in sessions, we finally got our team of 17. After the welcome meeting, we were straight in with a social, to instantly get everyone talking to people they’d never met before. At the start, it was all about getting a good chemistry between everyone. We had individual meetings with each person, but made sure they were long enough to not only explain the challenge itself, but also get to know them on a personal level too.

We had meetings every two/three weeks and had multiple socials in our first term together, including spoons and bowling, both involving ice breaker games (you’re guaranteed to find some strange things out, ie- Tom used to model as a homeless child). Towards the beginning, we started our Weekly Ways - little things each week to get you closer to the target. This included mini challenges and competitions with prizes to be won. Soon came street collections and bag packs. By this time, everyone knew each other well which made each collection that much more enjoyable AND successful. We even had a cute squad lunch together in Plymouth high street, all dressed up as bananas, fairies and even a sun burnt spartan warrior.

Over the summer, we started our group chat on Facebook. This was used for updates, memes, training advice/worries and most of all, bants. As the main deadline approached, we had individual Skype calls with each person, to see how they were getting on with training, how they intended to make the target and answer any questions they may have.

Post-marathon relaxing at the Szechenyi Baths.

Post-marathon relaxing at the Szechenyi Baths.

The teams final goodbyes at Heathrow.

The teams final goodbyes at Heathrow.

As Budapest approached, everyone got proper nervous. There were daily messages in the chat about lack of training, but we reassured everyone that “it’s all in the head”. Meeting at the airport was like a big family reunion. Excitement began to take over as we checked in and as per, Ben was late. When we got there, we were greeted by an angry coach driver and the happiest CaC reps ever. The lead up to the marathon was a whirlwind, full of socials and tears.

At this point, our main role was being the shoulder to cry on, and reassuring them that they can do it. On the race day itself, after the earliest start most of them have had since starting uni (or the 6am coach from Exeter we booked for them), we made it to the start line. Emotions were high. But as parents love to say “we told you so” - every single one of them crossed the finish line, even with a broken leg (hold tight Soph, pls come home soon). This was the best weekend we had ever had, so by the time we arrived back in Heathrow, it was a night full of tears, silly awards and emotional goodbyes. By the end of the whole experience, it felt like a real family (both of us adopting the nicknames Mum and Dad) with MANY family photos. Overall, we couldn’t be more proud of all of them, and thank them all for being such an amazing team/group of friends and making our lives so easy. Now onto our next family holiday - the Edinburgh marathon.

The journey that Sam² took their team on is absolutely phenomenal. Their story goes to show the importance of making sure your team is nice and cohesive from the get-go, and keeping that team spirit going right up until your departure and beyond.

A massive thank you to Sam² for writing up this blog for the leader forum. If you have any stories or experiences you’d like to share, give one of the team a shout or email your content to