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.
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.
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.