Britain’s Fittest Farmer 2023: Four strong entries so far

The first of three Britain’s Fittest Farmer qualifying rounds is set to kick off on 20 May at the Devon County Show.

The competition, which champions mental and physical health for those working within the agricultural sector, has attracted applications from all corners of the UK.

See also: Britain’s Fittest Farmer 2023 judge: From trainer hater to marathon runner

If you haven’t done so already, there’s still plenty of time to enter and take part in one of the qualifiers (see “How to enter”, below, for details).

Farmers Weekly spoke to four of the entrants so far to find out how they’re preparing for the competition.

woman in all-terrain vehicle

© Ginny Cressey

Ginny Cressey

Young farmer and law student Ginny Cressey works on her 404ha family-run arable farm in Nottinghamshire, where she helps out with the weighbridge and managing the grain lorries.

At just 19 years old, Ginny is one of the youngest competitors in this year’s competition, but she is determined to make her mark.

“Fitness is such a mind game, and I think you can do anything you want to do if you put your mind to it,” she says.

Ginny has been preparing for the competition by going on runs and completing The Fit Farm, a farm-based high-intensity interval training programme.

“I love a challenge – I am so competitive. But, I’m also really looking forward to meeting everyone at the competition,” she says.

man pulling tractor tyre

Will Arden © Richard Stanton

William Arden

As a seasoned BFF competitor, William is returning to the competition for his fourth year, and is determined to beat his previous ranking, having finished in second place twice.

He works on his family’s arable and deer farm in Lincolnshire.

Asked why he has returned for another year, he said: “It’s such a fun, inclusive competition, and it’s really nice to get to know different farmers from around the country.

“I’ve done quite a bit of personal training before, and always felt that mental health is connected to physical health – if you exercise the body, you exercise the mind at the same time,” he says.

In previous years, William has found that his strengths lay within the cardio challenges, so he has been going to the gym regularly to prepare for the strength elements of the competition.

“Some of the guys are quite a bit stronger than me, but I’m a little bit faster, so hopefully we can meet in the middle somewhere,” he says.

woman running in mud

Sonia Kelly © Peachsnaps Ltd

Sonia Kelly

Mother of two Sonia is competing in the over-40s category.

It is her first time taking part in Britain’s Fittest Farmer, but fitness is a regular part of her life, and when she’s not juggling kids and helping out on the family farm in Lincolnshire, she makes time to exercise, running regularly and going to the gym.

“It’s a balance,” she says, “but you’ve got to do something!”

“I love my Sunday morning bootcamp, high intensity interval training, classes, spin and running – I cram as much as in I can when the kids are at school.”

Sonia – now 46 – started running in her 30s, and is planning on taking part in a marathon next year.

In preparation for Britain’s Fittest Farmer she has been doing a combination of cardio and strength-based training, and is a big advocate of the mental health benefits of exercise.

“Whenever I have to stop exercising, my mental health just plummets – the two are so inextricably linked.

“If I’ve exercised, I’m just better, and happier – I’ve got more time for things and can cope so much better. You need to switch off and do it for yourself.”

man running

© Nick Tilt

Nick Tilt

Shropshire arable farmer Nick Tilt, 51, is competing in the over-40s category, after his children encouraged him to apply.

“I am quietly bricking it now,” he jokes. “But I’m looking forward to it too, it’s going to be a bit of fun.”

Nick regularly takes part in triathlons, so his preparation for BFF has centred on running, swimming and cycling, but he is also passionate about the mental health benefits of his training.

“Fitness is absolutely paramount to mental health – I’m convinced by it. It really does make you feel a lot happier, particularly when you are in a farming business and you can often not get away from it – it’s 24/7.”

Key dates for qualifying

  • Saturday 20 May – Devonshire County Show (applications are encouraged to be submitted by 14 May)
  • Wednesday 21 June – Lincolnshire Show
  • Sunday 25 June – Royal Highland Show

How to enter

There’s still plenty of time to enter – visit the Britain’s Fittest Farmer website and upload a photo or short video of yourself showing how you stay fit on the farm.

In your application, remember to tell us about how you champion mental wellbeing in your life.

See more