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Case Study - Haroon Mota

Sport and Exercise Science

Head of Challenge Events at Penny Appeal

Coventry alumni Haroon Mota, known today by many as the ‘Marathon Man’ graduated with a degree in Sport and Exercise Science in 2008. He’s since become a people motivator, multi-marathon runner, humanitarian philanthropist and Head of Challenge Events at international humanitarian charity, Penny Appeal. Not to mention winning the British Muslim Award 2019 for his efforts to raise funds for refugees and people in need.

We found out more about Haroon’s journey after University.

Harron Mota alumni

Studying Sport and Exercise Science was extremely motivating as I understood what it meant for me.

I have always been interested in sports and exercise, so learning about human physiology and how the body works meant the course was made for me.

There was a broad range of modules, including health and exercise, coaching, physiology and sport phycology, which massively equipped me for my career.

University also massively helped build my communication skills, networking and confidence, which has been crucial to excelling in the very demanding working environments.

I didn’t always know what career path I wanted to follow, but health and exercise has always been at the forefront of everything I do.

I have been running marathons since 2012 and so far that’s 31 half marathons and 10 full marathons all over the world, including the London’s 2019 marathon.

I am currently helping to encourage first time runners to get involved in the Coventry Half Marathon and offering them support through casual training sessions every week at War Memorial Park.

Going back five years ago, I worked as the Youth Support Coordinator for teenage and young adult cancer services at University College London Hospital – this was a big part of my journey. It was all about offering recreational therapy to young people with cancer by helping them deal with their emotions and the exercise element to improve their quality of life.

Previous to this I was a youth worker for the Positive Youth Foundation, helping disadvantaged young people not in education or employment follow a pathway back via sport activities and personal development.

I am currently heading Penny Appeal's Challenge Events programme.

Since starting at Penny Appeal I have set up the events programme and developed an entire portfolio. This includes fundraising for events, marathons, mountain climbs, treks, and international exhibitions. I also plan events strategies, manage fundraising, and recruit people. All money raised from events goes to providing water and food solutions, orphan care and medical aid in disaster and conflict areas.

Last year we raised over £1million in challenge events. A quarter of that funding came from a trek in 2018 to Mount Everest. I lead a team of 34 to the top at 18,000 ft, in temperatures of minus 25, where there was less than 15% oxygen in the air. That’s what makes it a charity challenge, putting yourself through immense difficulty, sacrificing time with family, and living conditions.

This funding was raised for the Rohingya refugee crisis as our current charity to help those living in biggest make shift camp in the world in southern Bangladesh.

I have always been involved in charity and volunteer work and in my current job I’m able to get involved in sporting events and help people get active and support their goals. I am driven by goals and getting results and for me it’s about helping people in charity and inspiring and encouraging others to come on board.

Penny Appeal is one of the official partners for the Coventry Half Marathon and this year we have close to 100 runners. I try to encourage more people from ethnic minority backgrounds and Asian communities to get on board with marathon running and representing themselves. For me events like this are about helping the wider community of Coventry to improve inclusion.

 Queen’s Award for Enterprise Logo
University of the year shortlisted
QS Five Star Rating 2023