Hailsham weightlifters take on 1 million kilo challenge for children’s hospice


Three friends from Hailsham have given themselves a weighty responsibility this September as they strive to push, pull and lift a million kilograms in 18 hours. That goal is the equivalent of 100 double-decker buses, two blue whales or two of the largest passenger planes in the world.

The three men – Chris Coleman, Joe Smart and Mark Hodgkinson – got to know each other because all three of them are at their gym, GL Fitness, for 6am almost every day. “We come from completely different walks of life,” says Chris, who is managing director of a children’s care company. “Completely different upbringings, completely different friendship groups. We see each other six days a week, train together for a couple of hours and then go our separate ways but we’ve become more friendly over the last year or two. We decided to use this thing that we’re good at to raise money for Chestnut Tree House.”

While the men are used to lifting heavy weights, the endurance required to keep going for 18 hours will be their biggest challenge. “Currently, the most we have done is 350,000 over five hours,” says Chris. “And at the end of it, we are physically exhausted. We are building our way up in the same way that a runner would prepare for a marathon.

“We’ve been fortunate to have had quite a few people offering their services, including a personal trainer, a dietician and a nutritionist. The one thing we do need is more fitness training to improve our stamina and endurance.”

A physical feat on this scale requires mental fortitude as well. Chris says, “It sounds really cheesy, but we just keep saying ‘this is for the kids’ – that’s our motivation. It makes a really big difference. We were all at the gym at 6am every morning even before we were doing this challenge, so I would consider us to be highly motivated, but this has just given us something more to focus on.

On the day of the challenge – 23 September – the three men will be cheered on by friends and family, while the gym will host a barbecue to raise further funds for Chestnut Tree House. Some gym members will join the men at points throughout the day to keep them company, although their repetitions will not count towards the total.

Ultimately, it is about the efforts of the three men who, as Chris says, have become “very close.

“With weightlifting, you have to trust the people you are training with – not necessarily with your life, but certainly your wellbeing in that moment.”

It’s a bond that will hopefully stand them in good stead this September. “We’ll be able to compensate for each other’s weaknesses,” says Chris. “If one person’s back starts to feel uncomfortable, they can do more legs, chest and back repetitions and someone else can pick up the slack.

“We are not going to fail.”