Kilburn Cosmos rugby player’s entertaining garden marathon raises more than £3,500 for NHS staff and volunteers

George Watkins running his garden marathon in aid of NHS workers.

George Watkins running his garden marathon in aid of NHS workers. - Credit: Archant

A rugby player’s entertaining garden marathon raised laughs and multiple donations to help NHS staff during the coronavirus crisis.

George Watkins has raised more than £3,500 for NHS Charities Together after agreeing to do the gruelling 26 mile jog for £50.

The 34-year-old completed the marathon in four hours 20 minutes, doing 850 laps of his mum’s 50 metre garden in Hertfordshire.

He said the challenge went so well he is open to doing more challenges during lockdown.

George, who is full back for Kilburn Cosmos, in Gladstone Park, was egged on to do it by a teammate in his Midnight Runners WhatsApp group who pledged £50 to charity if he rose to the challenge.

Demands for a live feed from his friends grew into a fully-fledged Instagram broadcast complete with commentary from his actor brother Rich Watkins, who also introduced ‘donation for challenges’ during George’s run - which saw him sit in his dog’s freezing cold paddling pool halfway round, do cartwheels, listen to Barbie Girl on loop and finish the race in nothing but his pants.

“Initially, it was a tongue-in-cheek suggestion on the group chat from my teammate Danny which spiralled out of control,” he said. “My reputation at the Cosmos is that I’m one of the fitter ones, but I don’t think anyone expected me to actually do it.

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“But speaking to friends at my running club the Midnight Runners, many of whom are NHS frontline staff, I was inspired to do it when they told me of the difficulties at the moment and how they are putting themselves in danger every day to fight the virus.”

Rather than train he decided to do it on April 11, three days after the challenge was set, to “get it out of the way and most importantly, do my bit to help others”.

“Apparently people were sitting and watching me for hours, donating as well to see me do silly things. I gave the people what they wanted, for the right price towards charity of course!

“People from all walks of my life were donating which was amazing to see.

“I’m proud that I and all the supporters have managed to do a little bit from the comfort of our homes to support the people who are literally putting their lives on the line to keep us safe.”

To donate to George’s cause visit