Britain’s Fittest Farmer 2023: Meet the winners

The winners of the Farmers Weekly Britain’s Fittest Farmer competition have been crowned after battling it out at the finals in Essex.

Among the 31 finalists, the competition was fierce and community spirit strong as they travelled from all corners of the country for a chance to take home one of three coveted titles.

Championing the best of physical and mental wellness within agriculture, each of the finalists took part in a regional qualifier event and telephone interview before the grand finale.

See also: Britain’s Fittest Farmer 2023: The finalists revealed

Men under 40s

John Carlisle, 27, Dumfriesshire

“I’m absolutely over the moon. It’s been a great competition and it’s getting stronger and stronger every year. This is my third year doing it – I was sixth the first time I competed, second last year, and got the win this year,” said Scottish farmer John.

John Carlisle with BFF trophy

© Telling Photography Ltd

“Anyone here today could have won it – all the boys had their strength and it all really came together.”

A seasoned Britain’s Fittest Farmer competitor, he says that his preparation has involved “basically trying to become good at all things”.

He said: “I’ve been doing a lot in the gym and a lot of running, training at home and with a running club to try and create that overall workout with a bit of strength, power, endurance and speed.

“I think it just helps me with the day to day. I mostly work out at night, and it’s a big release. We’ve got a big squad that we work out with and they’re all very competitive. I think that’s been the biggest benefit for me this year, the actual team that I’ve been training with.”

Aside from his fitness, John is passionate about the family’s beef and sheep farm, where he works alongside his dad and brother, supplying about 100 butchers across Scotland.

He has also recently started a new venture that combines his love of fitness and farming.

“We’ve just started a nutritional meal prep business called Farm to Fork Nutrition, so we’re doing ready-made meals with all of the macros counted, and it’s linked back to the farm, which is a great selling point and story.”

As for his future fitness goals, John already has his sights set on the 2024 Britain’s Fittest Farmer competition.

“Eifion won it last year, and I was second last year and won it this year, so I think we’re both going to have to come back next year and have a shoot-off to see who’s the overall champion!”

Women under 40s

Heidi Wilson, 24, Blackpool

“At the moment it doesn’t feel like reality. When I stepped up to that podium it was like a dream. When I came here today, I said that I would like to podium this year, but come back stronger next year because I thought my strength would still hold me back, so I think it will fully hit me tomorrow,” said veterinary student Heidi.

Heidi Wilson with BFF trophy

© Telling Photography Ltd

Exceeding her own expectations, Heidi said that her main preparation for the event was based around her own personal fitness goals. “I have a crossfit coach, and I train quite intensively for my own progress.

“I love this event for what it is. I came here with no expectations because it was an awesome day out and is so worth it for the people you meet,” she said.

“That’s not underplaying any of the hard work that I do for my crossfit though, and I do struggle with the brute force strength side of things, because crossfit is a bit more skilled.

“I just came and gave it my all, but I think the mental preparation of doing more sprints and working on things that I find more difficult, and having a bit more self belief – that’s worked quite well.”

Balancing her vet studies with work placements, Heidi says that fitness provides a welcome balance in her life, and has helped her to perform better, both academically and out on farm.

“I’d say it really helps in two ways – I’ve got a really strict workout schedule, but that doesn’t mean I do less work. I’ve learned to revise more efficiently, my grades have gone up since taking training more seriously, and I think even on placement, it gives me a lot of life outside of that work, so I don’t find the working day as long or as tiring on my feet.”

Asked whether she will return next year to defend her title, Heidi said: “I’ll come back next year, and I know I’ll be fitter and stronger, and I hope to see big progress in my deadlift, for example, as I really struggled with this in the final.

“In this event and this community, we are all in it together and it’s a joint effort and movement, so I never see it as a personal win. I think it’s amazing that I now have a platform to do better for more people and to encourage more younger people especially to find friends and an outlet in fitness.

“I want to continue that energy and determination that I carry in life.”

Mixed over 40s

Richard Peck, 40, Suffolk

Community is a big part of Richard’s passion for fitness.

Richard Peck lifting weights

Telling Photography Ltd

“When people go to work out, typically speaking, they all want to be there, it’s like a leisure activity,” he explains.

“Everyone is happy and excited to be there, so it’s so nice to get around that group of people. It makes working out so much easier and makes a lot of the stress of the day go away.”

Working on his friend’s arable and cattle farm, and having recently started sheep farming, Richard says a lot of his Britain’s Fittest Farmer preparation has been based on a balance of farmwork and training.

“I do quite a lot of lifting on the farm during the day to day, and I do quite a lot of training.

“I do crossfit, so that has pretty much prepared me for this and, of course, I tested out all of the workouts at home as well before I turned up today, except the 2km run.”

Out of all of the challenges, Richard says that he most enjoyed the strength-based challenges at the final. “That’s kind of my forte, so that was a nice way to start the day. The 2km obstacle run at the end was the thing I was least looking forward to.

“I’m pretty sore now, because I’m old, and I’m in the 40-plus category, so it’s been a bit of a toll on the old body today, but I’ve managed to keep things together. I’m very happy that I’ve won, but my body is quite tired.”

About the event

Britain’s Fittest Farmer was launched in 2018 by Farmers Weekly as a fun way of sparking a vital discussion about the physical and mental health of the nation’s farmers.

Now in its sixth year, the annual event has welcomed farmers from across the country to meet and compete in the spirit of friendly competition.

Contestants were put through their paces at three regional qualifier events designed to test speed, strength and stamina, before 31 finalists battled it out at Tom Kemp’s Farm Fitness site in Essex.

Alongside Tom, the competition was judged by Farming Community Network’s Charles Anyan and Farmers Weekly’s Chelsea Dale.

Find out more and apply for 2024 on the Britain’s Fittest Farmer website.

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