FCN ambassador and farmer Charles covers 10,000km in 3 years to promote positive mental wellbeing

Congratulations to Charles Anyan, one of our fantastic FCN Ambassadors, for hitting 10,000km in his running career.

Charles took up running just over 3 years ago, and since then the distance he has covered would have taken him from his farm in Springthorpe, Lincs, all the way to Cape Town. Which is quite an achievement! 

He may not have actually been to Cape Town, but he has completed Marathons in Manchester and Leeds, and even clocked up some miles in an FCN t-shirt on a beach in Australia.

And much of his running has been participation in events to raise money for our charity. He is a firm believer that exercise is linked to good mental well-being, and promotes positive mental health alongside all the activities he undertakes.

Having always been active – as a farmer, swimmer, and rugby player – Charles entered the first Covid lockdown feeling a little low about some circumstances in his personal life and keen to keep busy and lose some weight. The more he ran, the calmer he felt, and the happier he was when he looked in the mirror. 

He says,I soon started to realise I was losing weight, which motivated me more. It wasn’t long into my running career when I realised I was being transported to a much better place mentally and physically. The more weight I lost the easier running was and the quicker I could go.”

Although he started with a slow 5k around his orchard in bare feet, Charles is now on his 16th pair of trainers, and regularly runs 10-15km before or after work on the farm. 

“In a job like farming, it can be hard to separate your business and personal lives. A run gives you some headspace, allows you to get some perspective on day-to-day problems, and is a chance to recalibrate, both mentally and physically,” he continues.

Not only does he run, but he has also been back on the rugby field, and has covered 6,000km on his bike and by hill-walking. All this activity, alongside a great diet of #MothersMeals and now #JuliesMeals (he often posts pictures of some lovely looking packed lunches on Twitter provided by a couple of excellent women in his life) has enabled him to lose over 5 stone in weight.

A more positive advocate for the benefits of exercise would be hard to find. Farmer’s Weekly obviously felt the same and invited him to judge this year’s Britain’s Fittest Farmer Competition. 

After some competitive qualifying heats at the Devon County Show, the Lincolnshire County Show, and the Royal Highland Show, BFF contestants will gather at Farm Fitness in Essex on 17th September to take on ‘the ultimate physical assault course’. The winners will not only be crowned based on their physical fitness though. Charles, alongside the rest of the judging panel, recently spent a couple of days talking to them all to assess their attitudes towards mental resilience, and the way they look after their own psychological welfare.

He says, “The interviews were really enjoyable. I learnt a lot, and it’s very encouraging to discover lots of other people in the farming community looking after themselves and understanding the importance of spending time away from the farm doing something they enjoy.”

It would be hard to imagine Charles hanging up his running shoes any time soon. Not only has his passion for pacing along the country lanes and city streets impacted his own life so positively, but it has allowed him to raise awareness of the mental health challenges faced by others, and has helped The Farming Community Network to continue to support the wellbeing of farmers and farming families.

He says, “Charities like FCN do some wonderful work, especially within the realms of mental health. I’m delighted that there are great charities out there to watch our backs, and would like to thank anyone who has ever donated money towards one of my challenges from the bottom of my heart.”

Britain’s Fittest Farmer takes place on 17th September 2023, at Farm Fitness, Little Canfield, Dunmow, CM6 1TD.

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