The 401 Challenge

Ben Smith has started and completed something very special, something absolutely off the scale. He has raised the bar. On 1st September 2015, he embarked on the challenge of a lifetime, his goal was to run 401 marathons in 401 days. Just let that sink in for a moment, 401 days where you have to get up out of bed and go outside and run 26.2 miles, come rain or shine. That’s just over 57 weeks of running. The enormity of this undertaking is mind blowing. 

Lets chuck out some numbers to give weight to the phrase “mind blowing”:

  • A marathon is 26.219 miles (42.195km)
  • 401 x 26.219 is 10,513.819 miles (16920.352km)
  • 10,513 miles is a bloody long way!
  • 401 days is 57.2857 weeks
  • 401 days is 13.1835 months
  • 401 days is a bloody long time!

So on September 1st 2015 Ben Smith set off on a journey to run a bloody long way for a bloody long time and do some good by raising money for anti-bullying charity Kidscape and LGBT equality charity Stonewall. Whilst running the width and breadth of the country he was also visiting schools, over 100 of them in fact, to give talks about bullying to children and inspiring them along the way.

On the 5th October 2016 he completed that challenge, running marathon 401 in his home town of Bristol. He had set a target of raising £250,000 for these charities and cracked that goal on his final day. An amazing feat of endurance and mental fortitude. Having run a couple of marathons myself I can tell you first hand that this is no small feat. I don’t think you can really gauge the enormity of it all until you’ve attempted to run any sort of distance. It really is incredible.

I had the good fortune to be able to join Ben on his 401 challenge and complete marathons 390 & 397 with him in Farnham and Salisbury respectively. I ran 27 miles with him the first time and 30 miles the second time out. I didn’t think I’d be able to go the full distance with him once, let alone twice a week apart, but there is something about running with him that inspires and encourages you to push your own boundaries. To chuck out some more numbers, in excess of 9500 people ran with Ben during his challenge, over 500 of those running marathons for the first time and over 1200 people running further than they have ever run before. Talk about inspiring and motivating people to push their limits!

When you run with Ben he makes you feel very welcome and he insists on taking a selfie with everyone that runs with him. He makes time for everyone in his group on each day, there is no “celebrity status” here, he is just a normal guy, down to earth, humble, personable, doing something amazing! You couldn’t meet a nicer guy.

Even though the 401 Challenge has been completed I don’t think this is the end of it. I think he has set something much bigger in motion. I feel so touched by my experience with Ben that I don’t want it to end, I want to do more, I wish I’d got involved sooner, I need to do more. How’s that for a legacy.

If Ben ever reads this I just want to say to him thank you, thank you for allowing me to run with you and thank you for inspiring me. If I ever get the chance to run with you again I owe you a pint of Thatchers!

If you’ve not sponsored this amazing man yet then please visit his website below for more information on him and how to do so. Get involved!

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