Star Fundraiser

This month’s Star Fundraiser is Dan Highwood, who has just completed the Fuji Marathon to support the work we do with people around the world. He raised over £350 in the process! We asked him some questions about his incredible experience.

Why the Fuji Marathon?

Having been interested in running from a young age, the idea of braving a marathon has always been appealing to me – one of those ‘bucket list’ kind-of things. I just missed the boat on applying for the 2015 Mt. Fuji marathon and when the opportunity came around for 2016, I jumped at the chance (a now or never mentality!). The idea of taking part in something so challenging at the foot such a great mountain seemed like an opportunity I just couldn’t pass up on.

Why did you choose to support Health Poverty Action?

Choosing who to run for was not a decision I took lightly. After much research, comparison and discussion Health Poverty Action became the clear and obvious right option. Much of their incredible work and philosophy really resonated with me, but specifically it came down to 3 main reasons:

  1. Their global reach in 13 countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America and ethos to specifically prioritise neglected populations where other organisations can’t or won’t go.
  2. The wide-ranging array of issues they work on from health systems to killer diseases to young people.
  3. Their recognition that the war on drugs has failed and calling for a new approach to drug policy, which puts people’s health and rights first.

Where did you train, and how did you find it?

Currently living in Japan I predominantly trained around my area in Nasushiobara (about 3 hours north of Tokyo). There are beautiful paths between rice fields to run through with mountains as your backdrop – it was all going so smoothly until I hit a wall called ‘runners knee’ about a month before the race. A common injury for ‘over running’ apparently, and after an x-ray and doctors advice I had to migrate my training to the swimming pool for the final weeks leading up to the race!

How much did you raise and what fundraising activities did you organise?

I raised over £350. I took part in the ‘ekiden’ (a run for my city in Japan) in order to drum up some attention for the cause and asked friends and family to support.

What is your top training tip?

Take it steady and keep off the Big Mac’s!

What is your top fundraising tip?

Personal emails seemed to work quite well for me.

What was the highlight of the experience?

The old cliché of ‘crossing the finish line and receiving my medal’ was pretty amazing, but I think it would have to be the camaraderie of 15,000 people all in the same boat together on the day. Walking down the to the start line before the race felt like we were about to go to battle – the almost tangible buzz in the air – a surreal experience.

Your biggest challenge?

The thing with Japanese marathons is that they have cut off points throughout the race. If you don’t reach a certain point by a certain time you can’t continue. My gammy knee gave out after 12 km so it was a real struggle getting to each checkpoint in time! Made the 27km one by 3 mins and crossed the finish like with just 6 mins to spare. Never again!


What an incredible achievement! Dan’s JustGiving Page is now closed, but you can still make a donation to Health Poverty Action here. If you have an exciting challenge lined up, or an original fundraising idea that you want to do for Health Poverty Action, get in touch with Lindsay at

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