Smilinggg 366 Press Release

SMILINGGG 366 : It’s 366 marathons, not a sprint!

Smilinggg 366 Fundraising Link

James Cooper, an avid ultra runner and fundraiser, is embarking on an extraordinary challenge in 2024 to run 366 marathons in 366 days, all in support of the renowned mental health charity, Samaritans and to raise awareness of his Smilinggg initiative, The Smilinggg Mile. This remarkable feat aims to raise awareness and funds for Samaritans' life-saving work, providing vital support to those in need.

East Grinstead, West Sussex is set to witness an unparalleled display of determination and resilience as James takes on this monumental task. The challenge, Smilinggg 366, will commence on 1st January 2024 and conclude on 31st December 2024 covering a staggering distance of 9,589.2 miles throughout the year.

Samaritans, a leading mental health charity, has been providing emotional support to individuals in distress for over 70 years. Their dedicated volunteers offer a listening ear, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, ensuring that no one has to face their darkest moments alone. The funds raised through this challenge will directly contribute to Samaritans' ongoing efforts to prevent suicide and support those struggling with their mental health.

James has a personal connection to Samaritans' cause, recognising the importance of mental health support and the impact it can have on individuals and their loved ones. Inspired by Samaritans' unwavering commitment to saving lives, James has set an ambitious fundraising goal of £703,000 to help ensure that Samaritans can continue their vital work. This significant number highlights, honours and pays tribute to the 703,000 people around the world each year who die from suicide.

In 2014 and 2015 James experienced a depressive period within his life that rocked him to his core. An emptiness that was difficult to convey with words. James can't recall exactly when, but remembers reading a book called Mindset by a lady Carol S. Dweck. He didn't quite realise at the time, but it planted a seed and ignited the faintest spark in his mind. The power to believe we can improve. That who we are in this very moment isn't who we always have to be. It opened his awareness on an intellectual level that we can grow and things can and will improve through purposeful effort.

Over the course of many months, with small but purposeful effort, his situation did slowly but surely improve, and what came from the darkness was Smilinggg. The Smilinggg Mile proved fundamental in helping James improve his mental health and wellbeing. It has since provided a framework to live his life by. Not bad considering it all started by Googling 'How to be happy.'

Throughout the year, James will be running marathons predominantly in and around East Grinstead, but is keen to run further afield if opportunities present themselves, with the intention of engaging with local communities, businesses, and running enthusiasts to raise awareness about mental health and the services provided by Samaritans and The Smilinggg Mile. The challenge will also serve as an opportunity to encourage open conversations about mental health, reducing stigma, and promoting overall well-being.

James is calling on individuals, businesses, and organisations to support this incredible endeavour by making a donation to Samaritans. Every contribution, no matter the size, will make a significant impact on the lives of those in need. Donations can be made securely through the donation platform JustGiving, and regular updates on the challenge's progress will be shared on James’s Instagram and Facebook pages.

James is available for interviews, speaking engagements, and media appearances to discuss the challenge, the importance of mental health support, and the impact of Samaritans' work. For media enquiries or to schedule an interview, please fill out the below form.

Join James on this extraordinary journey as he laces up his running shoes, pushing his physical and mental limits to support Samaritans and make a lasting difference in the lives of countless individuals. Together, we can create a world where no one feels alone in their darkest moments.

Smilinggg 366 Fundraising Link

About James Cooper:

James Cooper is a personal trainer and meditation teacher. An endurance fundraising athlete and mental health first aider and advocate, James is the mind, body and spirit of all things Smilinggg. 

Formerly a sales and marketing executive, James walked away from his office-based career in 2010, at the age of 23 due to dissatisfaction with his life and a yearning to live a life of deeper meaning. He obtained a Diploma in Personal Training and spent the next two years helping people all over the world improve their health and fitness as owner and head coach of JC Fitness Experience. An innocuous tackle whilst playing football in 2012 saw James break both his tibia and fibula in his left leg. 

James since refers to this injury as his ‘lucky break’. It was the beginning of a five-year journey of self-discovery in South East Asia, culminating with the birth of Smilinggg and its simple daily practice.

Between January 2013 and June 2017, James spent eighteen months as a primary school teacher in Phuket, Thailand before basing himself in Hoi An, Vietnam as a health and wellness coach.

Since Smilinggg’s initial formation on Sunday 17th May 2015, James has worked tirelessly to raise awareness and promote The Smilinggg Mile and its benefits whilst looking at ways to serve the Smilinggg mission statement.

To build healthier and happier lives, one step and one smile at a time.

An enthusiastic and passionate voice advocating greater understanding and openness of mental health, James has channeled this through public speaking, digital publishing, podcasting and in addition becoming an ultra-endurance fundraising athlete for Mind: The Mental Health Charity and since 2018, Samaritans Charity.Participating in ever more challenging events each year since 2015, with thanks to the Smilinggg community, £23,019.42 has been raised for these charities.  

His return to England in June 2017 has been with the intention to continue to build on from the work he began in Asia. James has a dream that Smilinggg will continue to grow and develop, benefiting schools, workplaces, households, communities and charities across the UK and beyond, supporting millions of people to live healthier, happier and more fulfilled lives. That’s The Smilinggg Way.  

About Samaritans:

Every 10 seconds, Samaritans responds to a call for help.

Samaritans are here, day or night, for anyone who’s struggling to cope, who needs someone to listen without judgement or pressure.

Samaritans is not only for the moment of crisis, they’re taking action to prevent the crisis.

They give people ways to cope and the skills to be there for others. And they encourage, promote and celebrate those moments of connection between people that can save lives.

They offer listening and support to people and communities in times of need.

In prisons, schools, hospitals and on the rail network, Samaritans are working with people who are going through a difficult time and training others to do the same.

Every life lost to suicide is a tragedy, and Samaritans’ vision is that fewer people die by suicide.

That’s why they work tirelessly to reach more people and make suicide prevention a priority.

They do this by:

  • Being available 24 hours a day to provide emotional support for people who are struggling to cope, including those who have had thoughts of suicide
  • Reaching out to high risk groups and communities to reduce the risk of suicide
  • Working in partnership with other organisations, agencies and experts
  • Influencing public policy and raising awareness of the challenges of reducing suicide


  1. Listening, because exploring feelings alleviates distress and helps people to reach a better understanding of their situation and the options open to them
  2. Confidentiality, because if people feel safe, they are more likely to be open about their feelings
  3. People making their own decisions wherever possible, because we believe that people have the right to find their own solution and telling people what to do takes responsibility away from them
  4. Being non-judgemental, because we want people to be able to talk to us without fear of prejudice or rejection
  5. Human contact, because giving people time, undivided attention and empathy meets a fundamental emotional need and reduces distress and despair.


Press Contact:

James Cooper


Telephone: ‪+44 7737 174117‬



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