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OUR initiativeS

Welcome to: Ugly Boys Running Club

I want to get involved

The Ugly Boys Running club was born from the need for a safe and inspiring place where men were able to exercise and build a sense of brothership with those outside of their social circle.



Not just a marathon

Through our Ugly boys program we have achieved the overall goal of improving and equipping those men involved to become more proactive in regard to their mental health. Throughout the past two years, over 100 participating students have completed weekly training with the guidance of the UC Run Canterbury programme in preparation for running a marathon.

The goal of the Ugly Boys Running Club is to rekindle a love for movement that our members may have lost over their years of mental health difficulties, sport, or couch surfing. This has a positive impact on their mental health, enabling better performance academically and holistically in their life.

Our Mantra

Running for the right reasons.

Our mantra is, we are ugly runners but we are running for the right reasons. Moving to change the perspective of young men to show them the importance of getting mentally and physically healthy. Whilst learning how to better support their mates that may be struggling along the way.

The new year brings new initiatives and challenges for Ugly Boys Running Club, but the mantra remains the same.

"Ugly boys, running for the right reasons"

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the year ahead

Cultivating a brotherhood

In 2023 the focus will remain on cultivating a brotherhood, where men motivate each other through mental fitness and fortitude. This has the goal of combating the loneliness, anxiety, and stress that tertiary study brings.

The Ugly Boys Running Group embarks on a journey to see real change by:

  • Providing opportunities for tāne to partake in positive, healthy, activity-based wellbeing practices, equipping them-selves with the self-care tools through mental fitness.
  • Facilitating a brotherhood, where men motivate each other, hold each other accountable, and do so for each other’s health and wellbeing.
  • Enhancing the altruism of physical fitness, where members are proud to exercise regardless of their on the day performance.
  • Raise funds for Movember to support Men’s Mental Health in Aotearoa.

However, our plans are also to implement an emphasis on exploration. We will be introducing new forms of exercise to the boys such as trail running, hiking, kayaking, and cycling. Which will work towards our long-term objective of providing the Ugly Boys with multiple platforms to engage with their mental and physical fitness. 

Monthly group exploration opportunities will accompany our revamped 12-week and 15-week training programs. Our presence in fundraising events such as Movember and Running 72 will grow, with the Ugly Boys having the option to train towards a Marathon, such as the Mt Isthmus Traverse in November 2023.


Hear from previous Ugly Boys

"Ugly Boys changed the way I look at running and mental health" – Justus Duncanson

It would be fair to say Ugly Boys changed the way I look at running and mental health. When I first began training for running I looked at myself as an individual and would try to improve individually. Because of this I wasn’t motivated and struggled to challenge myself in order to improve my overall fitness.

Then I started running in the Ugly Boys running club. This changed my approach from running individually to in a pack, pushing my body to the limits, making it easier to maintain motivation to consistently go for runs. I BELIEVE this is the same as for mental health. It takes an individual activity or sport (running) and shares the burden with your peers.

It’s easier sharing your thoughts with others instead of bottling them in like you are going to want to run harder and push yourself more in a running group. Turning an individual obstacle into a team orientated challenge that everyone can help improve the individual's mental health, is what I have received and given throughout my time in Ugly Boys. Improving mental health is easier when the burden is cohesively shared.

"I realized how big an impact sharing my feelings can have on my self-identity, confidence and mental health." – Sol Cerson

To me running has always been an individual activity and a way of clearing my own mind. So running with Ugly Boys Running Club was a new experience to me. I set a goal of running a sub 2 hour half marathon (21km) and running 150 km through November. Due to external factors such as exams and injuries, I didn't achieve either of these goals but learnt so much along the journey.

At first I was disappointed that I did not reach the goals that I had set, but through chatting with the group and hearing of others experiences and perspectives, I’d realized that I have never run more than 10 km at once or more than 20km in one month. This made me reflect that although it's important to set and chase goals, we have to be realistic about our progress and realise that even if we don’t reach the goal, we've made so much more progress than if that goal was never set.

At first I was disappointed but through reflection with the Ugly Boys, I realized I doubled the distance I can run and ran 5 times further than I ever had in a month. This made me realize how important it is to talk to others about how we are feeling and progress in our personal life. It's easy to get caught up in our own head and neglect how far we've come in our journey. Through the Ugly Boys Running Club I realized how big an impact sharing my feelings can have on my self-identity, confidence and mental health.


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