RUNNER Ben Smith stopped off in Cardiff at the weekend to take on his 76th consecutive marathon, as part of a challenge to run 401 in 401 days.
The 33-year-old Bristol-based running fanatic set himself the unenviable task to raise £250,000 for charity.
Ben has run a marathon every day since he started on September 1 and is now nearly a fifth of the way to his target.
With his final 26.2 miles not until October 5 next year in his home city of Bristol this is clearly not a challenge that Ben undertook lightly.
“I’ve given up everything for this. I’ve sold my house, quit my job and sold all my belongings. Everything I own is in my camper van now. But when you are running for a cause you believe in so deeply, it’s easy to get up in the morning feeling energised.”
This was Ben’s second run in Cardiff after pounding the streets on Friday. Ahead of Sunday’s marathon he was full of praise and admiration for the locals who have supported him throughout.
“The reception in Cardiff has been massively positive. One of the ladies from the Les Croupiers running club was kind enough to put me up in her home both tonight and Friday. We’re hoping for a huge turnout today and more people than ever to join me on the run. I’m always humbled when people offer their support, but Cardiff has been particularly great.”
The people of Cardiff did not let Ben down as he had his biggest following of his challenge so far, with 56 runners joining him on the day.
The monumental challenge is in aid of two charities close to Ben’s heart.
“I’m running for Stonewall and Kidscape. Stonewall is an LGBT charity and they helped me a lot as I was bullied at school because of my sexuality. I was living the life others wanted me to live but thanks to Stonewall I was able to live how I want and love the man I love. Kidscape are also great and they look at ways of practically helping to stop bullying in schools.”
Before he took on the challenge, Ben had run a few marathons but was far from an accomplished runner.
“I only really took up running two and a half years ago; I was overweight and not very healthy. I found that running helped with my depression too. I know it’s a cliché but running has saved my life.”
The wind picked up and the rain continued to pour as we chatted. I told Ben that I couldn’t think of anything worse than running in this weather.
Ben was more optimistic: “Actually this is pretty nice weather. We were in Swansea yesterday and we were battling 40mph winds. This is a beautiful day in comparison.”
“The route around Cardiff is a great one through the parks in the city. It’s the same as the one I ran on Friday and it’s been devised by local runners.”
Ben will be running around the UK every day for the next year and is hoping to raise as much money and awareness as possible.
“If people want to get involved then just get in touch via our Facebook page or on Twitter. Any ability, any age, I’d love as many people as possible to run alongside me.”
If you’re interested in donating to the 401 challenge or meeting Ben on one of his runs then visit his website at www.the401challenge.co.uk.
Or look out for him on 5 September, 2016 as he runs marathon number 371 in Cardiff.