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Ben Smith and Fiona Outdoors running Marathon 203. Photo credit: Fiona Outdoors.

Ben Smith completes 401 marathons

06-Oct-16

Last updated: 24-Oct-18

By Alice Morrison

Ben Smith ran his 401st marathon in his home city of Bristol (England, UK) on Wednesday 5th October to complete his incredible challenge of running 401 marathons in 401 days to raise money for Stonewall and Kidscape and to campaign against bullying.

It was a massive homecoming and hundreds of runners joined him as he set off from the city’s Millennium Square at 10am. He finished at around 4pm and said, “I think I’m in a bit of shock. I can’t believe we have done this. Without every single person who has taken part we wouldn’t be where we are now and I can’t thank you enough. I am sure the charities will thank you.

10,506 miles

He has run an incredible 10,506 miles since 1 September 2015. He has also burned over 2.5 million calories, worn out 22 pairs of trainers and given 101 motivational talks to schools, colleges and universities to raise awareness of bullying. When he ran his 53rd marathon on October 23, he broke the Guinness World Record for the most marathons on consecutive days.

As a child he was bullied viciously and that led to depression and suicide attempts. That was behind his decision to sell his house take on this incredible challenge and raise money for Stonewall and  Kidscape.

Not all plain running

Ben’s marathon PB is 3:15 but on the challenge he averaged significantly slower. During the run, Ben said: “I am not out to break any speed records and I am happy to run at the speed of whoever is with me each day. I want people to run with me.”

Not surprisingly, that amount of running took its toll on his body and he suffered some pretty painful injuries including a stress fracture in his toe, serious tendonitis and his fair share of coughs and colds.

In November, Ben was forced to go for emergency medical attention when problems with his back reached crisis point. He was given medical advice to rest up for at least a week. In a video posted on social media he said that the pain was so bad he could not even stand straight. Doctors told him that it was related to an umbilical hernia and he may have been overcompensating. But he got past it and then ran extra miles to compensate for the break.

Nutrition

During the 401 Challenge he didn’t follow any strict nutrition plan but ate “real food and plenty of it”. He needed to eat about 6,500 calories each day to maintain his weight.

He said: “I can eat and then run without any problems. After doing so many marathons day after day my body seems to cope with this. I prefer not to use energy gels or drinks or supplements and I like proper food.” He did use one energy drink though… the occasional emergency pint of cider at lunch time.

A modest man

Ben really has achieved something extraordinary but he remains incredibly modest. “My story really started when I was 29 and I suffered a TIA [mini stroke],” he said. “I was about 16.5 stone [105kg], overweight, unhealthy, smoked, drank – I couldn’t even run for a bus. If somebody had told me four years ago that I’d be doing this, I probably would have sunk my pint, lit my cigarette up and laughed at them. My life has changed dramatically after finding running, both physically and from a confidence point of view as well.”

Congratulations, Ben, absolutely great stuff!

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