Running with… 401 Marathon Man

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If you haven’t heard about Ben Smith or his incredible achievement, prepare to be amazed.

On the 1st of September 2015, Ben went out and ran a marathon. This was to be the first of the 401 marathons Ben would run, in 401 days. For the many runners reading this imagine running one marathon and how you feel the next day, then add 400 more marathons after that. Not amazed yet? Well, then let me continue.

Ben’s challenge was born from being on the receiving end of years of homophobic abuse at school. The relentless bullying led to Ben attempting to take his own life, twice. His depression and the fear he had of coming out were crippling him. It wasn’t until he had a stroke at the age of just 29 that Ben knew that he couldn’t continue on the path he was on. He made a change and out of this the #401challenge was born with the aim of raising £250,000 for LGBT and anti bullying charities (to date he has raised over £315,000). Over five hundred new marathon runners and thousands more joined him along the way. A running community that stretched the length of Britain centred on helping one man achieve his goal.

To me, Ben epitomises THE endurance runner, never giving in regardless. He suffered severe tendonitis, lost the feeling in his left foot, broke a big toe, and had one of his knees double in size. Oh and he fractured a vertebrae in his back. Despite all of that on October 5th Ben finished, exhausted.

A few months on I caught up with Ben to see how the 401 Challenge has changed him and to get some running advice:
What would you say to a runner just starting out?

Start off with small distances to see if running is actually for you, don’t worry if it isn’t – its not for everyone!

What do you find to be the most rewarding thing about running? Specifically running long distances?

For me it’s the sense of adventure, freedom and meeting new people. I have been able to express myself through running and visit some crazy places and have met people I now call life long friends!

You said a couple of months after finishing that you still haven’t found your love of running again, how is that search going?

It’s coming back, I think because of the scale of the project it would be natural to say that my love for running wavered. I had a purpose, a goal and once that goal was over then it left a wide void in my life. Motivation lacked, the cool down process didn’t go to plan – but I’m thankful that now I am starting to get back on top of it with new energy for the future.

Do you have any another challenges in the works?

No physical challenges as such, we are concentrating our efforts on building a business that will support a foundation aimed at building confidence and self esteem, tackling mental health and self development issues across all ages in all communities.

Finally; Morning Coffee or Morning Run?

Morning coffee definitely, but who says you have to choose, I like to combine the two!

You can read more about Ben and the 401 challenge on his website. 

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