Former British professional runner Colin McCourt just took a lot of business out of the hands of a tattoo parlor in Glasgow, Scotland. After completing a 5k in 15:38 this Sunday (under a 5:10 per-mile pace), the 32-year-old won a bet with 17 of his friends. Instead of getting one tattoo of each of their names, he’ll have won £1,700—just over $2,250 at current exchange.
McCourt’s result at a small 5k in Burnley, England, ended an astonishing 10-month transformation. In February, he weighed 207 pounds and could barely finish 3.1 miles in 24 minutes—a far cry from his days as one of the country’s top 1,500-meter runners.
Early in the year, he was inspired to lose the weight after seeing a photo from his professional running days and seeing how much his body had transformed. (Six years ago, he was a sponsored runner with ambitions to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics. He retired after a disappointing qualifying race, turning to a desk job and after-work pizza and beer.) When he told his friends about the endeavor, they suggested a friendly wager: if McCourt could not complete a 5k in under 16 minutes by the end of the year, he’d have to ink his body 17 times with their names.
Just found this on my phone, it's been a long time since I ran properly or at all. I did 150 days straight last year but just couldn't keep it going. Had a beautiful baby boy and lost track of time and made a million excuses. Now, I am over weight and completely out of shape. I honestly think I couldn't run under 20mins for a 5k. So, after all that I'm gonna try and get fit again so I can at least run with my son with out getting out of breath. #running #runnersofinstagram #runnerscommunity #runnerslife #instarunners
They haggled over the location—his friends wanted to decide where their signatures would go—eventually agreeing that the tattoos could not be visible under a short-sleeve T-shirt.
This is me just after my run…Please excuse the nipple hair, it's the least of my worries…my bloody legs where chafing and I needed a sports bra! This is day one, everyone has a starting point this is mine. Out of shape, legs rubbing together and out of breath. It can only get better right? #weightlossjourney #weightlossmotivation #weightlossinspiration #weightloss #running #runningman #runningday #ruinningcrew #runningtime
Motivated by the punishment, McCourt changed his diet and began to train, eventually working his way up to running more than 60 miles per week. As he plunged back to running twice a day—squeezing miles between work and taking care of a toddler—his friends did everything they could to hamper his progress. In an interview with Men’s Journal, McCourt said they sent Chinese take out and deliveries of pizza to his house more than twice a week. He began donating the tempting food to neighbors.
McCourt has been documenting his progress on Instagram, gaining thousands of supporters. After accomplishing the time, he posted a video, declaring he wants to pursue a new challenge—this time without his skin on the line.
⭐️?Day-295?⭐️ It’s done well smashed. I can’t believe it if I am honest, it has been the most craziest mental, journey ever. I have loved every minute of it! First I want to thank everyone that has commented and supported me throughout this! You have no idea how much you helped me get though this! Thank you ?. Right we aren’t done yet! Now it is time for season 2!! What do we do next, well that is up to you guys! What would you all like the next challenge to be! Please put your ideas in the comments below we will pick the best. Then do a poll and that’s it! We are off on another journey. This time it will be for charity! And if I fail we need a forfeit so get putting them in the comments as well! Have a fantastic Sunday I’m off for a beer ? Thank you. You guys have changed me life ?