Celebrating My 30th Birthday With a 24-Hour Fitness Challenge

When I turned 29 last year, I told my family that I was going to attempt a 24-hour fitness challenge to mark my 30th birthday -- an age I wasn't supposed to reach. Despite having cystic fibrosis, I am determined to inspire hope and highlight the importance of fitness when it comes to CF.

| 5 min read
Josh Llewellyn-Jones

When I was born in July of 1987, something just wasn't right. My stomach was severely distended and the doctors were fairly sure I had a blockage in my bowel. After an initial assessment, the surgeons told my parents I had a 10 percent chance of living through the night. But despite undergoing intense surgery, I survived.

Through a sweat test, the doctors found that I had cystic fibrosis -- a disease my parents had never heard of and had very little information about (keep in mind nobody really had the internet back then, which makes me feel slightly old).

Back then, the predicted median age of survival for someone with CF was in the late teens. “He probably won't make it to his 20s and will be very lucky to make it to 30,” the doctors said. Fortunately, my parents, two older brothers, and older sister didn't fully accept what they were told. At the age of 2, my family took me on a holiday from our home in Wales to the United States to visit family friends in Dallas, Texas and, little did I know, the local CF center for a full review as well.

After a full day of tests, my parents asked the doctor what they should do to give me the best chance at a full life.

“Run his legs off, and when he stops, pick him up and get him to do it again.”

Needless to say, this was the start of something … something that would come to change my life.

After that day, my parents bought a trampoline, and they, along with my siblings, would bounce me up and down, play football with me (that's soccer by the way, and it mainly consisted of my brothers blasting the ball at me in goals, because why not?), and generally kept me running and running and running.

With so many plans in my mind and challenges to pursue, I found it hard to slow down. When I turned 21, however, I had no choice. I began to experience extreme chronic stomach pains and within days, was admitted to the hospital for emergency surgery. What was supposed to be a two-hour operation turned into seven long hours -- and it wasn't pretty.

When it was finally over, the surgeon told me that if I wasn't so fit, I most likely would have died. In that moment, I truly understood that sports and fitness have not only played such a huge role in my life by helping me build relationships and have fun with friends, but they've also helped me to stay alive.


When I turned 29 last year, I told my family that I was going to attempt a 24-hour fitness challenge to mark my 30th birthday -- an age I wasn't supposed to reach. Although they are used to me setting ridiculous challenges for myself, this one really did take their breaths away.

I did some research on extreme fitness challenges and started training. And by training, I mean ridiculous amounts of sweat (salty sweat for that matter), pain, cramps, food, and some tears as well.

On July 28, 2017, I will exercise non-stop in an effort to raise money for cystic fibrosis and -- more importantly -- awareness of what can be achieved in CF through sports and exercise. Within these 24 hours, I will attempt to:

  • Lift 220,462 pounds
  • Cycle 100 miles
  • Run 10 miles
  • Row 10 miles
  • Cross-train 10 miles
  • Swim 2 miles
  • Complete 3,000 sit-ups
  • Complete 1,000 press-ups
  • Complete 1,000 squats
My ultimate goal is to inspire hope and let every family and young child with CF know what's possible -- whether that means running a mile, keeping a daily exercise diary, or walking up a flight of stairs.

In the moments when I start to think, “I'll just give up” or “this is too hard,” I remind myself that some people don't have the privilege of being able to give up. That's what this challenge is all about -- showing the general public that it's possible to overcome extreme odds and showing CF warriors all over the world that, for at least 24 hours, we are thinking of them.

DISCLAIMER: Adults with existing medical conditions like CF should talk to their health care provider before starting an exercise program. Your care team can work with you to develop a fitness plan tailored to your individual health, needs, and goals.

This site contains general information about cystic fibrosis, as well as personal insight from the CF community. Opinions and experiences shared by members of our community, including but not limited to people with CF and their families, belong solely to the blog post author and do not represent those of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, unless explicitly stated. In addition, the site is not intended as a substitute for treatment advice from a medical professional. Consult your doctor before making any changes to your treatment.

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Josh was diagnosed with CF when he was born in 1987. Today, he is a fitness fanatic who runs  an advertising company in Cardiff, South Wales. Fitness challenges have become a huge part of his life, and he is passionate about spreading awareness of sports and exercise for CF through his 24hrs4cf campaign. You can follow Josh on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

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