Ben Smith

On the 1st September 2015 Ben Smith began one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of his life, he ran 401 marathons in 401 days all around the UK visiting 309 different locations on the UK Mainland. Ben aimed to raise £250,000 for the two amazing charities Kidscape and Stonewall who are dedicated to tackling bullying in our society. These two charities support award winning initiatives to get to the heart of bullying in schools and society in all its forms.  Ben ran a total of 10,506.2 miles, which is the same distance from London to Sydney, and at the end of the challenge on the 5th October 2016 Ben had raised in excess of £330,000 through generous donations by individuals and businesses all over the world.

Ben Smith’s history is unfortunately similar to many other children in the UK. Ben was bullied at school for being gay for 8 years of his life. Throughout his childhood, Ben never spoke about this through fear of making things worse. He tried at both the ages of 18 and 21 years to take his own life – he felt this was the only way out. His experience of being bullied led Ben to become under-confident in his abilities and suffered from low self-esteem throughout his teens and into his twenties. Ben suffered from mental health issues, particularly depression and an inability to trust anyone or have any visions, objectives, or wants of his own.

Being bullied affected his whole life until he turned 29 when he suffered from a TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack), otherwise known as an incomplete stroke. This led Ben to sit up and make a change, he needed to start thinking for himself and find out what made him happy in life. This came in the form of running.

From his first attendance at running club, Ben has excelled himself, from being unable to run for a bus in 2013 to completing 401 marathons in 401 days in 2016. This journey has been fraught with highs and lows but has provided opportunities to build his confidence through a passion he fortunately found. Ben has inspired others to achieve things they never thought were possible, he has overcome adversity and a lack of belief in his own ability as well as dealing with injuries, such as an impinging nerve in his back and an umbilical hernia.

For Ben, running has given him the opportunity to find his true self, it has provided endless amounts of confidence, self acceptance and opportunities he would have previously never had. Finding what makes him happy has brought peace to his life, enabled him to be congruent with himself and find a passion to help others that have or are going through what he has gone through.

Ben Smith and The 401 Challenge team smashed all four of our objectives, which we are thankful for and very proud of. This project has been a true representation of what communities can do when they stand together.

Challenge Facts:

  • 10,506.2 miles run or the equivalent distance between London and Sydney
  • 2,600 litres of water drank
  • 2.9 million calories burnt
  • 9,873 people ran with Ben in the challenge
  • 1,354 people ran further than they have ever done before
  • 575 first time Marathon / Ultra Marathon runners created
  • 101 schools visited throughout the UK
  • 3 countries visited including England, Scotland and Wales
  • 25,000 miles driven all round the UK in a motorhome
  • 23 pairs of trainers worn
  • Over 12,000 images taken
  • 3 Colds
  • 2 Chest Infections
  • 1 Fractured Back along with other injuries

All this and countless more people inspired and motivated to make a real positive change in their lives and others’ forever.

Awards:

Ben and The 401 Challenge team have received awards for this inspiring project, including:

  • Braveheart Hero at the North Somerset Hero Awards 2015
  • Public Choice Award at the North Somerset Hero Awards 2015
  • The Regional and National Pride of Britain Fundraiser of the Year Award 2016
  • The Power of Light Award 2016 from the Cabinet Office and Prime Minister Theresa May
  • Gold Star Charity Champion at the Bristol Post Gold Star Awards 2016
  • First’s Gold Star Hero at the Bristol Post Gold Star Awards 2016
  • The BBC Sports Personality of the Year Helen Rollason Award 2016
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