Ben Smith’s Final 401 Marathon – Bristol 

On Wednesday 05th October 2016, myself and 6 running friends joined Ben Smith in Bristol on his final marathon in the 401 Challenge.  For those unaware, Ben is running 401 marathons in 401 days in support of two anti-bullying campaigns Kidscape and Stonewall.  He has been on the road since September last year running around the UK.  Along the route he has asked running clubs/groups to run him on his marathons including our very own Great Yarmouth Road Runners last November. More than 500 runners have completed their first ever marathon running with Ben!

My 401 experience started in my hotel room before breakfast, watching the man I was going to be running with being interviewed live by Piers Morgan on Good Morning Britain. In fact Ben was pretty much on all the news channels throughout the day. After my usual pre-marathon breakfast of sugary black coffee and porridge we walked/ran down to the start in Millennium Square. The sun was shining and everyone was incredibly upbeat and excited for the challenge that lay ahead.  It wasn’t long before I clocked the great man himself.  I made a beeline for him to present myself and Penny Studley’s first brand new £5.00 notes. 

After a group photo line-up and official introduction from Ben, myself and several hundred other runners lined up to cross the start line.  The route headed out of Bristol along the tow path beside the River Avon. The scenery was simply spectacular. We ran under Brunel’s famous Clifton Suspension Bridge and along the seafront overlooking the River Severn Road Bridge with Wales beyond. There was a chance for a few photo opportunities including a pit stop at Portishead Lifeboat Station. We ran some of the time alongside Ben and he stopped frequently to regroup everyone. At around 12-miles we stopped for lunch in Portishead at Ben’s local bar overlooking the marina. A chance for some light refreshment and a cheeky beer! For those only running half the distance a bus was laid on to ferry runners back to Bristol.  Legs a little stiff the rest of us set off for another 14 odd miles on the same route back to Bristol.  For some the 2nd half proved a little tougher going and the pace slowed. I was fortunate not to hit the infamous wall.  In fact it was a sheer pleasure to be able to run a marathon whilst soaking up the surroundings without worrying about the time or pace for once.  As we re-approached the outskirts of Bristol at around 24 miles, Ben stopped to regroup everyone.  A great chance to have a mini break to rest the by now weary limbs! We continued on for another mile. Then another brief stop to collect some schoolchildren who ran the last mile with us!  

It was with sheer jubilation and delight that we crossed the finish line in 4 hours 46 minutes. Much slower than I would normally run a marathon, but this wasn’t about beating the clock. This was about supporting a very inspirational human being on the final leg of his epic challenge. The day’s efforts proved to be even more rewarding with the news that Ben had hit his £250,000 fundraising target. It is hard to grasp the sheer magnitude of what Ben has achieved, certainly a massive feat of human endurance. Running one marathon is hard enough, but to do one every day for over a year is virtually beyond the realms of possibility. To be part of this challenge with Ben for just one day was a great honour and privilege, one that will live in the memory for many years to come.  

If you would like to sponsor Ben you still can….

Text BEN to 70660 to donate £5 or via website where you can read more…