Calling to end the Great Run and Herbalife Partnership

Great Run Herbalife

If you’re a runner and active on social media, you have probably by now seen that the Great Run series have recently signed Herbalife as their nutrition partner.

Oh dear. Herbalife and nutrition. It’s a bit of an oxymoron really, isn’t it?


For the unaware, Great Run is the UK’s biggest mass participation race series and their events aren’t limited to just running. They have inspired hundreds of thousands of people over the years to run in events such as the Great North Run, as well as establishing Great Run Local – free of charge weekly events for the community. In recent years, they have also introduced events such as the Great Swim series.

Herbalife are an established multi level marketing (MLM) corporation who promote health supplement and weight management tools. It doesn’t sound so bad, does it? However the ethics of this company have been called into question on multiple occasions, and in 2016, agreed to pay the US Federal Trade Commission a $200 million fine, after the FTC said that Herbalife had cheated hopeful sales people out of hundreds of millions of dollars with a high pressure multi level marketing scheme. They sell a dream, and distributors make their money out of not only selling the product, but by recruiting people to work underneath them. In turn, these distributors sell the dream and the MLM continues.

I feel very strongly about Herbalife and other such schemes. So I was disgusted and horrified to learn that Herbalife had been signed as the nutrition partner. I’m not going to sit here and wax lyrical about the nutritional content. I am not an expert and while it is my personal belief that a shake is not a replacement for real food, without understanding the ingredients, it would be wrong of me to say that the product itself is dangerous. Stephen elaborates further on these points and this post from Julie also outlines her concerns and anger.


There’s a certain irony in this though. From the page of a Herbalife seller. I don’t see any real food there. Just fake.


However, I AM against the dodgy ethics of this company, and worse, the alarming tactics adopted by many of their sales people. I have no doubt that many of them use the product as supplements to go with real food. However, what terrifies me is the fact that anyone can sell. Anyone can become a distributor. Anyone can recruit. And this leads to everyone thinking that they can dole out nutritional, or even worse, medical, advice.

While Herbalife themselves may remain very careful to stay the right side of the line, it’s clear that their sellers don’t. They have become known for pushing meal replacement shakes onto their customers, claiming it a healthy and nutritional way to lose weight quickly. Now, I may not be an expert, but even I know that losing weight too quickly is unhealthy. A meal replacement shake plan should only ever be done under medical supervision. And that so-called #bossbabe on your friends list is not a medical professional. Nor is she working 4 hours a week to earn a million pounds providing for her future, regardless of what she may have you believe. She’s selling you a false dream, just like she has been sold. And she’s selling you potentially dangerous advice.


According to the nutritional info on the Herbalife website, a shake, with non-fat milk, contains just 90 calories. And this is to replace breakfast and lunch?


A healthy lifestyle is not about replacing two meals a day with shakes. It’s not about listening to dietary advice from a Herbalife (or similar) seller. I believe that this form of nutrition can lead to damaging relationships with real food.

This partnership may not be intending to promote poor nutrition. But it is giving unscrupulous and brainwashed individuals a credible platform and saying that they are okay with poor ethics.

Great Run, I urge you to rethink this partnership. We all know money talks. So your pocket is where it will hurt when people start to boycott your events.

Do you agree that this partnership is a terrible idea? We have set up a petition. Click here to add your voice.


2 thoughts on “Calling to end the Great Run and Herbalife Partnership

  1. To be honest I am not a big fan of the Great Run company anyway- the two runs I have done (GSR and GNR) I would not repeat for a few reasons, and I found them expensive and not that well organised.
    But working with this sort of company is pretty terrible.

  2. I’m a Personal Trainer and it really makes me angry when companies like this (and others) claim that their product is some sort of miracle worker, as surely if that were the case then wouldn’t doctors prescribe it to people?
    I also hate that anyone can sell it and call themselves ‘wellness coaches’ or whatever it is they say they are. I have so many clients come to me, having used these products and being told misinformation in exercise and nutrition from a so called wellness coach whose actual job is working in a bank! There should absolutely be some sort of regulation as to who is allowed to even sell these products (if they must be sold at all!). I then have to spend time teaching the client the proper ways to exercise and point them in the direction of real nutritional advice from qualified persons.
    I completely agree with all you are saying and have signed the petition to show my support.

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