Man raises £288k for anti-bullying charities by running 401 marathons
PUBLISHED: 09:00 15 October 2016
A man who sold his house and gave up everything to run 401 marathons in a row for charity has completed his challenge – after battling a fractured vertebrae.
Weston-super-Mare Athletics Club runner Ben Smith, aged 34, completed his 401st marathon on September 5 around North Somerset and Bristol.
His remarkable feat of endurance has raised more than £288,000 for Kidscape and Stonewall – two anti-bullying charities.
Ben told the Mercury he treated his last marathon like any other, right the way through to the finish line.
He added: “I had to focus on the here and now and keep my head in the game.
“It was an incredible experience and it will be one I will probably never have again. I accomplished everything I wanted to.”
Ben chose the two charities after he was bullied for eight years at school. That experience saw him struggle with depression for several years and even led to him trying to commit suicide at the age of 18.
But Ben says it was his love of running which saved him.
After his first marathon, in 2013, Ben caught the bug and decided to travel the world one marathon at a time. In 2014, he finished 18 marathons across Europe and the United States.
He said: “I fell in love and found a passion. Little things like running two miles, which seems like nothing now, gave me confidence.”
He said: “We looked up the world record and it was 52, which didn’t sound like that much. We did a bit more research and found a Spanish man who had done 365 marathons.
“We rounded it up and created the 401 challenge.”
Ben started his marathon challenge on September 1 last year and has since run more than 10,500 miles. He is the first man to finish 401 marathons consecutively.
Completing so many marathons had an enormous impact on Ben’s mental and physical health.
He said: “After 50 days it became a mental game – you don’t want to get up and go for a run if it is cold and raining outside.”
The hardest point for Ben came with marathon number 284.
He had already suffered minor injuries and ‘niggles’ in the early stages but the worst was yet to come.
He said: “We were in Aberdeen. I could barely walk, let alone run and I was in a lot of pain.”
Ben had suffered a fractured vertebrae and had to take 10 days off to recover.
He said: “It felt like the end of the world when the doctor told me to stop.
“I’d sold my house, given up my job and invested two and a half years in the project.”
But he was quick to make up the distance, adding extra miles onto his marathon each day.
To donate to Ben’s cause, visit www.the401challenge.co.uk
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