Meet James Cooper

Smilinggg in Da Nang


James Cooper is a health and wellness performance coach 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. 

Broken Leg JC

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.

JC Teachinggg

JC Meditatinggg

Since Smilinggg’s initial formation on Sunday 17th May 2015, James has worked tirelessly to raise awareness and promote The Smilinggg Daily Practice 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.

JC Smilinggg Challenge

An enthusiastic and passionate voice advocating greater understanding and openness of mental health, James has channelled this through public speaking and in addition becoming an endurance fundraising athlete for Mind: The Mental Health Charity. 

JC Speakinggg

JC High Five

His return to England in June 2017 is 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.

Smileathon 2017 


Athletic Achievements


Gods Own Backyard Ultra : 33 Yards : 137.5 Miles | Winner | (20th May 2023)

London Marathon : 3:08:58 (Personal Best) | (23rd April 2023)

Tunbridge Wells Half-Marathon
 : 1:28:37 | (19th February 2023)


The World Backyard Team Championships : 35-yards : 145.9-miles | 6th Place | (15th October 2022)

Centurion : South Downs Way 100-miles : 19:47:37 | with 12,000ft elevation gain | (11th June 2022)

Ultra Challenges : Isle of Wight 106km : 11:53:03 | 3rd Place | with 6,128 ft elevation gain | (30th April 2022)

Endurance Life : Sussex Coastal Trail Series Marathon : 3:54:22 | 6th Place | with 4,951 ft elevation gain | (19th March 2022)

Paddock Wood Half-Marathon : 1:25:14 (Personal Best) | (13th March 2022)


Gods Own Backyard Ultra : Leeds, West Yorkshire : 142 Miles (34-loops) | 2nd place (Assist) | (6th - 7th November 2021)

Ultra Trail Snowdonia 165km : 105 Miles | 34,701 ft | 48:30:17 | 26th Place Overall | (10th - 11th September 2021)

Ultra Challenges : Lake District 100km : 12:51:17 | 10th Place Overall | (12th June 2021)

Endurance Life : Sussex Coastal Trail Series Ultra : 5:28:1433-miles with 5,528 elevation gain | (17th April 2021)


24-Hours of Smilinggg Challenge: 76-miles with 18,129ft elevation gain (2nd December 2020)

Smilinggg 24-Hour Poppy Appeal Challenge: 1 Smilinggg Mile on the hour every hour for 24-hours (11th November 2020)

Limitless Vertical Challenge: 2x Mount Everest (25th May - 31st May 2020)


Smilinggg Everest Challenge: 8 hours 56 minutes (10th October 2019)

Bewl 15 Miles: 1:53:03 (7th July 2019)


Run For Your Elf: 6:59:52 - 14 loops = 70.5km / 43.78 miles) Most loops completed. (8th December 2018) 

Hurtwood 50k Trail Ultra: 5:36:06 (2nd December 2018)

The Smileathlon: 4 Iron Triathlons in 4 Days (14th May 2018 - 17th May 2018)


The Sunrise to Sunset Smileathon: 71km / 43 miles (10th October 2017)

Standard Chartered KL Half Marathon: 1:34:27 (21st May 2017)  

IronMan 70.3 Vietnam: 5:46:37 (7th May 2017) 


Luang Prabang Half Marathon: 34km (Lost) (23rd October 2016)

Challenge Vietnam Triathlon: 5:59:01 (11th September 2016)

Da Nang International Half Marathon: 1:42:06 (6th August 2016)

Watergate 16-Hr Ultra Marathon: 80km (9th-10th January 2016)


Can Gio Marathon Ho Chi Minh: 3:58:32 (15th November 2015)

Laguna Lang Co Marathon: 3:57:54 (1st place male 18-29) (25th October 2015)

Da Nang International Marathon: 3:41:43 (30th August 2015)