Completing one marathon is a massive achievement.
But how about completing 401 marathons in 401 consecutive days? That is the epic challenge Ben Smith has set himself, leaving his home on September 1, and travelling around the UK in order to cover the distances and raise money for charities Stonewall and Kidscape.
On May 4 he will be coming to Grantham to undertake his 247th marathon, and the local community has united to give him a warm welcome to the town, and to support him in his efforts. We spoke to Paul Davidson of Grantham Athletic Club, to find out more about the event they are planning for Ben, the route across town, and how everyone can get involved.
* Tell us about Ben and his incredible challenge.
Paul: Ben went to boarding school and was bullied quite badly – which he puts down in later life to being ‘different’. He even tried to take his own life on two occasions. However, he later went on to be successful in work and happy in his own skin, but at the age of 33 he wanted to make a difference, so his bad experiences never happened to anyone else. So he came up with the idea of running 401 marathons in 401 days. The aim for was two-fold; to create awareness of the impact of bullying, and to raise £250,000 for two anti-bullying charities, Kidscape and Stonewall. To fund the challenge he sold his home in Bristol along with most of his possessions. He bought a motor home, which he has called Florence, and which he uses to travel between the different daily locations and to provide him with accommodation en route. He relies on local running clubs to organise each daily marathon route and for their runners to accompany him on the run itself.
How did you become involved?
I went to run with Ben at Sleaford on December 22, and after chatting to him it gradually sunk in the enormity of his challenge. Like most runners, I know how hard it is to run just one marathon – but to run a marathon every day is very difficult even for me to comprehend. Staying physically fit and free from injury and healthy is the obvious challenge, but then there is the mental challenge which I cannot even think about what strength is needed each day. After my run with him I saw he had a date in Grantham for a marathon and I offered to plan it for him. So with the support of my club, Grantham Athletic Club, and the help and support of friends in Belvoir Tri Club and Grantham Running Club, we have organised a marathon route and his day in Grantham. We are also extremely lucky to have Inspire+ working with us, and with their expertise and help we are visiting 19 schools on the route to help raise the awareness of Ben’s anti-bullying message.
* Where is the Grantham route?
We start at the SK Sports Stadium at 10am and several locals schools will be joining us. At 9.30am Ben will give a short talk about his experiences to the schoolchildren, and then those that want to can run round the track with him before he exits the stadium on the rest of his daily 26.2 mile run. He will be completing4.3 of these around the stadium track and will be visiting lots of the local schools to do laps of their playing fields. The route takes us across town, and to Harlaxton, Barrowby and Great Gonerby. It will finish at the Meres Leisure Centre. A live tracker of the route is also available on our dedicated website 401challenge grantham.yolasite.com so that you can follow Ben’s progress on the day and find us to join in. Runners are welcome to run one mile, 26.2 miles, or anything in between, and you can either join the pack from the start or pick us up anywhere en route. Ben normally runs at a pace of 10 to 12 minutes per mile, but will be happy to go along with the slowest of the group.
We will be having two main stops for refreshments and snacks, at The Tollemache Inn and the tennis centre, as Ben needs his carbs, so this is an ideal opportunity to join the pack.
* Anyone else you would like to thank?
Yes we would like to say a big thank you to the following sponsors and supporters: 1Life, Grantham Athletic Club, Grantham Tennis Club, Cafe Rainbow, Eden Hotel, therapist David McKee, Living Health, Neal Burnham, Exhale Therapy, therapist Jette Rasmussen and Inspire+.
* In what ways can local people get involved with Ben’s marathon in Grantham?
Anyone with any questions about Ben’s Grantham leg, can email him at email@example.com
You don’t need to be a member of any of the clubs to get involved on the day, whether that’s running or helping – everyone is encouraged to join in.
You can also visit the official 401 website at www.400400challenge.co.uk for the full details about Ben’s epic, and gruelling, marathon challenge, or the official 401 Facebook page at www.facebook.com/the401challenge.
Visit the official 401 Virginmoneygiving page if you want to sponsor Ben, by going to bit.ly/1UaPgwU