Multi-marathon man hits town

Marathon man Ben Smith (centre) flanked by Sleaford runners. EMN-151222-184758001
Marathon man Ben Smith (centre) flanked by Sleaford runners. EMN-151222-184758001

Sleaford club runners came out to support a man’s epic world record attempt to run 401 marathons in 401 days.

Ben Smith, 33, from Bristol, kicked off the challenge to do the 401 runs around 309 different locations in September.

Ben, who has family in Lincolnshire, said: “The challenge will aim to raise both awareness of the issues of bullying in our society along with £250,000 for two amazing charities dedicated to tackling bullying - ‘Stonewall’ and ‘Kidscape’. Both these charities work tirelessly to support award winning initiatives which really get to the heart of bullying in our UK schools and society in all its forms.”

He has recruited running clubs, therapists and schools to support him on his 401 Challenge around the UK.

Ben arrived in Sleaford on Monday December 21 to complete his 112th marathon and was joined by local members of Sleaford Town Runners, Sleaford Striders and Grantham Athletic Club.

The group battled wind and rain, heading out to Kirkby La Thorpe, Ruskington, Dorrington, Leasingham, Silk Willoughby, Rauceby and back to town.

Sleaford Town Runners club secretary Gary Britnell said they planned a course avoiding busy roads and said: “We were doing about 11 minute miles, which is about average for a club runner and Ben was getting over a broken toe. I think everyone was surprised how well he was looking.

“He is really enthusiastic, chatting and getting everyone involved.”

He was sent to boarding school and suffered from bullying, twice trying to take his own life, until finally coming out as gay, taking control of his life and taking up running.

He says: “Growing up as a teenager is hard enough without having to through mental and physical abuse at the hands of your peers.

“The challenge is about showing people that no matter what you go through growing up there can always be a positive outcome if you want there to be.”