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Alumnus Sam Heward, co-founder of Ultra X, organises worldwide virtual race

Newcastle University alumnus, Sam Howard tells us about global sports organisation Ultra X and their response to COVID-19.

Founded in 2018, Ultra X is a worldwide sports organisation that describes their vision as ‘the world’s biggest ultramarathon series’ and ‘to inspire positive change in people’. Co-founder Sam Heward graduated from Newcastle University with a first-class BA in Geography and was excited to tell us about his graduate journey, as well as Ultra 14.1 – the virtual race Ultra X is organising in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“In this time of self-isolation and working from home, it is more important than ever that we look to keep ourselves active and continue to connect with each other. So if we can’t race in reality, then we’ll race virtually!” said Sam.

“We’ve had two events postponed, and it is very likely that we will have more delayed and demand is definitely taking a hit, but we remain hugely optimistic about the future and are busy preparing for a world post COVID-19 where people are going to value their health, fitness and experiences more than ever.”

A graduate journey
Sam describes his time at Newcastle, and the career path that led him in co-founding Ultra X:

“I loved my experience studying at Newcastle University. The city has everything the student could wish for – good value accommodation, a lot going on the social side, a real student community, an amazing intramural sports scene and most importantly it attracts a lot of good people. I made a lot of good memories and was sad to leave.

“I went into the Grant Thornton Graduate scheme straight out of uni, qualifying with them and spending three years as an Associate within Commercial Audit, before moving to PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers) to further pursue my career in professional services. The truth was I never wanted to be an Accountant but it seemed like a profession which left you pretty open to go into a variety of sectors at the end of qualification, gave you a great insight into a wide range of businesses and put off a decision about real life until the end of the grad scheme. I always wanted to run my own business, I just didn't always know what it would be!

“I’ve always been an entrepreneur at heart, so it was an easy leap to make when Ultra X began to take shape, committing full time from November 2018. My role involves acting as Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer (strategic planning, customer relations, sales, PR and finance).”

Find out more on the Ultra X website. Do you have an alumni story you want to share? Email us at

published on: 8 April 2020