What started out as a conversation with my marathon-running partner Dann in the early days of VALA has since become our catchphrase. 'KEEP IT REAL' initially stood for 'KEEP IT natural and eat REAL food' but it has developed into so much more than that.

KEEP IT REAL is all about being genuine, honest, authentic and kind to ourselves and others. It means having a positive mindset and getting out of bed to train on a muggy morning, when all you really want to do is snooze the alarm. It symbolises showing appreciation for family and friends for always waiting enthusiastically at the finish line with big smiles, bear hugs and snacks (can't forget the snacks!) and giving a friendly a nod to a fellow runner/rider/hiker that's also braving the elements.

These three words have evolved to mean so much more that we ever imagined and have come to embody our ethos. Above all, our mantra is a small reminder to be compassionate to ourselves, our surroundings and those around us.