The 401 Challenge

I don't know if many people here are aware of the exploits of Ben Smith, who is undertaking the 401 Challenge - 401 marathons on consecutive days. No rest days. Today was his 80th, and he came to Oxford. I had the pleasure and privilege to run with him with a bunch of other local runners. I didn't do the whole marathon (he did two laps of the Oxford Half course) partly because of time limitations and partly because I simply couldn't contemplate running much more than the 21K at this stage. He's an astonishing guy. He's doing this to support a number of anti-bullying charities - as much to raise awareness as to raise money. He visits schools and does all he can to create a profile.

The previous record for consecutive marathons was fifty something. Since he passed that figure, he's been setting a new world record every day! I took part in a world record event today :)

I ran about 17K today - and I really should have taken more notice of water and energy - I was running out of steam by the time I finished!

My run -

29 Replies

  • I was aware of this staggering endeavour Steve and have been following his journey! What an amazing thing to do and it must have been a real honour to join him for part of his marathon today! I cannot begin to understand how the human body can withstand what he is asking of his, but I totally salute him and think it's great. Do you think it is possible to keep going for 401 days?

    Also, a great cause that (working with kids) is close to my heart.

  • He'll do it, I'm sure. We were asking him how he can possibly keep doing this, and he said there was a secret - the body gets used to doing it. He looked good and strong as he ran, and he'll keep going.

    It was fantastic to be part of it today, and I plan to join him in April when he comes back.

  • Fab! I really hope he does.👍😀

  • He will do it! I've run with him a few times since he started, he's amazing. If you get a chance to do even a few miles with him then do it, you will be inspired and he's a lovely guy :-)

  • He is amazing! we saw him at the IOW marathon, no 41 for him i think!

    Well done on your excellent 17k too! :)

  • well done on your run! Its a fun way to do the distance, no time pressure ;-) when is he back in Oxford?

    The current official men's world record is 52, Ben ran #53 in Whitstable, where a lovely lady did her first ever marathon with him (I think there were a few PBs, including my biggest mileage week ever), having previously only ever run a HM before. His runs will need to be verified, but GWR have accepted his application for the challenge. There are people who have run more, they haven't been recognised, there is a lady who did 53 and I think hers is currently being reviewed (Ben ran with her some time back).

  • He's in Oxford again today (Friday), but I have the little matter of a wedding to attend (mine), so I can't join him again today, but he's back here in April.

    He explained the record criteria to me - he has to meticulously record a lot to make sure he qualifies!

  • oh yes, I forgot, what are you doing online, LOL

    Good luck, have a wonderful day!! x

  • Bit too hard core for me, but I would love to hear about his motivation and coping mechanisms.

  • He seems to just care a huge amount about helping people with self esteem and confidence. He loves that on his runs he's helped over 50 people achieve PBs.

  • 4 for me so far, thanks to Ben and the lovely people who were running with him on those days :-)

  • Hi Tomas,

    Ben has loads of people who just run a mile or so with him, and he runs at the pace of the slowest runner, happy to take walk breaks too, he has a lot of these to do so needs to pace himself ;-) Some just come out to congratulate him and give him cakes too :-)

    His main motivation is that he was bullied so badly that he tried to take his own life when he was 18. Running has helped him, it's given him some escape, some time to come to terms with it all and to move on.

    He can explain it better himself, there is a video part way down this news item from his first one back in September, it chokes me up every time I hear his mum say her piece (the journalist was crying). He's an amazing guy, his is not the story of a victim though, it is the story of a survivor and he's spreading the word in schools too, quite a few school talks in the diary.

    He has therapy (massage, etc) most days, donated by therapists up and down the country, to help keep him going. There are lots of ways to get involved from donating to operational costs or the charities, to offering a bed for the night if he's near you, to doing his laundry (he doesn't have time, he lives in a camper van!) check out the You can buy wrist bands too and watch out for something new on the site this weekend... ;-) or check out his facebook page

    (Sorry Steve, didn't mean to hijack, one of my pet subjects as he's such an inspiration!!)

  • Sorry if I came across sounding "down" on him. I'm sure he's a great guy, and bullying is a great issue to raise awareness about. So respect to him for that.

  • You didn't at all Tomas! No need for apology.

    It is a totally crazy thing to do, there is no denying that, and it's a massive challenge, just to keep him healthy, let alone running that mileage!

  • Wow ! This is just brilliant ! Hope he comes to my neck of the woods :-)

    Well done on your run today Steve , excellent stuff !

    Just wondering if you had heard anything from Dunder lately ? :-) xxx

  • I was wondering about Dunder, too - no sign of him at all :(

  • Oh dear , hope hes okay :-(

    Many Congratulations to you Steve and the soon to be Mrs Steve on your Wedding Day !

    Have a brilliant time !

    I have put on a posh hat whilst typing this Ha ha :-) xxxx

  • there is a list of marathons on the website :-)

  • Thank you so much , this is amazing ! Are you the Vickie that's mentioned on the website ???

  • might be ;-) :-D Yes, I should have declared an interest really!

  • Oooooh it is you !!!! Cor, that's brilliant , Well done and what a truly fantastic guy Ben is , fantastic stuff ! :-) xxx

  • I hope to run with him tomorrow, so I'll let him know you guys are all cheering for him :-D xx

  • Yes ! That would be fab , please get a photo Vix ! :-) xxx

  • I will do, although I already have a stack of selfies with him, I actually didn't send him a copy last time, as I think people are getting a bit bored of seeing my mug all over the place ;-)

  • I just realised it's Vicky!

  • That's amazing ! And it all started here ! :-) xxx

  • :-D

  • Ah this post again! He's still at it! Everyone should take a look on the website to see if he's running near you soon. My hubby joined him for an hour or so over Christmas. He really enjoyed it. Such a good bloke doing a great challenge.

  • Just astonishing. I would not like to be cartilage in his knee!

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