What a pleasure it was today to meet the lovely and quite awesome bloke that is Ben Smith.
Tea, cake and a post run massage were supplied along with a lot of cuddles with the dog for Kyle, Ben’s partner. Why all this fuss?
Well its Ben’s 46th marathon you see. He has been running a marathon a day since 1st September and he won’t be stopping until Wednesday 5th October 2016… yes that is correct. He won’t be stopping for a whole year.
By that point he will have 401 daily marathons under his belt.
The current world record is 53, which he will break with the good people of Canterbury on 24th October. However, world records are not the reason for this gigantic effort. Ben is on a mission, a mission to raise £250,000 for the anti-Bullying campaigns at two very special charities; Stonewall and Kidscape and to harness the awesome power of running.
Now you would think that somone doing this kind of thing may have been a top flight athlete or a keen sports person all their lives. But no, Ben was not sporty child or indeed a sporty young man. He came to running in his late twenties as a way of coping with the stresses and strains of life and he does it because he really loves it.
Running clubs and running communities up and down the country have come together to support Ben by planning his routes and running with him. I think the current record for accompanying runners is over 40 people. How fabulous is that!
Therapists, like me, provide post run treatment. People bring him goodie bags (note: he is partial to a Jaffa cake but bananas disagree with him), provide parking, do his washing and make him food. It takes quite a bit of daily attention to keep him on the road.Speaking to him on Friday he says he is constantly overwhelmed by the kindness of people and of the support that has been forthcoming.
What a lovely message that gives; one of kindness, community and support. Integral to the 401 Challenge itself but more pertinently part of the solution to the dark cloud that is prejudice and bullying.
So if you get a chance, pop down to one of his runs to cheer him on, #runwithben, offer practical support, donate.
Be part of the message and part of the soluton.
For all information see the401challenge.co.uk and follow him on facebook or twitter @the401challenge