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401 marathons in 401 days for anti-bullying cause

by Press Release
Friday 24th July 2015
Tags  Bournemouth Marathon   |   Bristol Bath Marathon   |   Ben Smith   |   Stonewall   |   Kidscape

Charity news: Fundraiser Ben Smith, aged 33 from Bristol, will be embarking on the challenge of a lifetime when he attempts to run 401 marathons in 401 days all around the UK

Fundraiser Ben Smith, aged 33 from Bristol, will be embarking on the challenge of a lifetime when he attempts to run 401 marathons in 401 days all around the UK

The aim of the 401 challenge is to raise awareness of the issues of bullying in the UK, with a collaborative approach to planning this challenge with schools, running clubs and using social media to spread the message. Each marathon that Ben runs will involve people throughout the country, from novices wanting to run some of the distance to keep fit, to those generous enough to donate towards the event. This will all raise funds for the charities Stonewall and Kidscape, whilst increasing awareness about bullying as well as lesbian, gay and bisexual rights in today’s society.

He is hoping to raise £250,000 as he covers over 10,000 miles - the equivalent of running from London to Sydney beginning on September 1.

Ben says: “This challenge is about showing what you can do, taking what you have experienced and changing it into a positive to inspire and influence others in a good way. I spent most of my early years at the mercy of bullies, which meant I struggled to make friends, build relationships and generally enjoy life’s experiences. At two low points in my life, after many years of constant mental, physical and verbal abuse, I gave up and tried to take my own life.

“Then came the turning point in my life, when I found running! I started training for a half marathon back in 2011 and I wanted to achieve something for me, and just for me. I can’t describe the feeling I had once I had achieved it, I was elated and in 2013 I joined Southville Running Club. I was conditioned to feel worthless so automatically I felt that the running club wouldn’t accept me, but they did and now I have some of the most amazing friends!

“The 401 challenge isn’t just about raising £250,000 for Stonewall and Kidscape, it’s about going out there and giving me the opportunity to share what I have been through, taking the message to children throughout the country and showing that even though you may go through some tough times in life, you can learn from them and they can affect your future in a positive way.”

Ben ran his first marathon just three years ago. The preparation for the 401 challenge began two years ago and Ben tested his limits by running 18 marathons in 2014.

“It was to see what my limitations are, what my ability is. I also started to get people on board like chiropractors and physios. Last year was about building confidence. I needed to get sponsors on board and health professionals on board.”

Asked why he decided on 401 as a target, he explains: “I looked at running a marathon every single day for a year – so 365 marathons. But I'm a bit OCD - as I think most runners are. So I liked the idea of rounding it up and adding the last one as a victory lap!”

The challenge will see him take in 309 locations throughout the UK with the vast majority of his marathons being distance runs organised by UK running clubs. He encourages people to join him for anything from one mile to the full distance.

Only nine marathons will be official organised events. Amongst them will be the Bournemouth Marathon (www.run-bmf.com), which will be the only event he runs twice as his 34th (October 4, 2015) - and 398th (October 2, 2016) marathons, and the Bristol + Bath Marathon (www.bristolbathmarathon.com - October 25, 2015).

Fundraiser Ben Smith, aged 33 from Bristol, will be embarking on the challenge of a lifetime when he attempts to run 401 marathons in 401 days all around the UK

For more information on the 401 Challenge see www.the401challenge.co.uk or follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/401challenge or like on Facebook at www.facebook.com/the-401-challenge and you can sponsor the challenge at www.uk.virginmoneygiving.com/the401challenge


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