Running for Change: A Journey from Paris to St Andrews

Imogen Mowbray

Teacher of English at St Leonards School, St Andrews

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At St Leonards School in St Andrews, we believe in the power of education, not just within the four walls of our classrooms, but in every step  our students take. As an English teacher with a passion for sport, I had the incredible opportunity to accompany our pupils at St Leonards on a trip with Eltham College to Paris. The mission? To run 680 miles from Paris to St Andrews in just six days. This was not just any average run; it was a journey that tested our endurance, created new friendships, and made a significant difference to many lives around us.

The adventure began with a flight to Paris, buzzing with excitement and anticipation. Our team, composed of a group of dedicated students and staff, was ready to take on this huge challenge. The goal was clear: run in relay teams from the centre of Paris all the way to St Andrews, commemorating the centenary of Eric Liddell’s gold medal at the 1924 Paris Olympics.

Each day, we covered substantial distances, sleeping mostly in campervans that soon became our pop-up mobile homes. Despite the physical toll, the camaraderie and shared goal kept our spirits (perhaps surprisingly) high. The support team in the van played a crucial role, ensuring we were all well-fed and topped up on enthusiasm. Their efforts allowed us to focus solely on putting one step in front of the other.

The pupils started the run at the Olympic Stadium in Paris where Eric Liddell made history in 1924.


However, our journey wasn’t just about the physical challenge; it was primarily to raise funds for three remarkable charities: Mary’s Meals, Personal Best, and the Eric Liddell Foundation. Together, we have managed to raise over £20,000 (and counting!), a testament to the generosity and support of our community. These funds will make an obvious difference, providing meals for school children, supporting sporting development programs, as well as those living with dementia. If you would like to donate to support the cause and help us reach our fundraising goal, the link can be found here.

For me, one of the most memorable moments of the trip was the service held at St Mary’s Church in Cambridge. This service was a reminder of the community’s support and the historical significance of our run. As the organ played the famous music from ‘Chariots of Fire’, which, I must admit, brought a tear to my eye, a moment of reflection and inspiration hit all of us in the Church, fueling determination to reach the finish line. Over the course of the 680-mile journey, both pupils and teachers were all struck by the kindness experienced from strangers, friends, and colleagues. This undoubtedly motivated us to ‘just keep running.’

The runners were treated to a tour around Trinity College, Cambridge.


The culmination of our run was fantastic. We arrived in St Andrews at 6 am, our moods lifted by the accomplishment of our journey and the free breakfast provided by both our Head and International Baccalaureate coordinator. The final leg took place at the local ParkRun, where we were welcomed with applause by the local community, teachers, parents, and students alike. As if this wasn’t enough, the following day, we participated in the annual 5k Chariots of Fire run on the beautiful beach in St Andrews. Running along the sand to the sounds of bagpipes, where the famous scene from ‘Chariots of Fire’ was filmed was a memorable experience, conveying our tribute to Eric Liddell and his devotion to service.

The Chariots of Fire run where our pupils concluded their epic adventure.


This trip was more than a physical challenge; it was an event that highlighted the resilience and dedication of our students. It showed the power of sport to bring people together, to challenge and inspire, and to make a positive impact. There is no doubt that our journey from Paris to St Andrews taught our pupils just what can be achieved when passion, community, and purpose come together.

If you’re inspired by our journey and want to make a difference, consider getting involved with the charities that we have supported. Every contribution, no matter how big or small, can make a positive difference. Again – join us in continuing the legacy of Eric Liddell by donating here and supporting those in need. Together, we can ‘just keep running’ towards a brighter future.


13 June 2024