Join in marathon man’s world record challenge in St Andrews

Ben Smith, centre, hopes local runners will join him for all or part of his St Andrews marathon.
Ben Smith, centre, hopes local runners will join him for all or part of his St Andrews marathon.
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Local runners are being encouraged to join in the fun and show support when a world record attempt comes to St Andrews next week.

Ben Smith is aiming to run 401 marathons back-to-back on consecutive days and on Thursday he will be in St Andrews for marathon number 276.

He hopes as many locals as possible will join him for all or any part of the run, which starts at 10am at the car park near the Guardbridge Inn, heads along the cycle path to St Andrews, on to the West Sands then the East Sands and back to Guardbridge.

Local teacher Sarah Tennant, who took up running two years ago and is a member of St Andrews Adventure Running Team (STAART), was so inspired by Ben’s challenge that she answered the appeal for people to help publicise the event and organise marathon routes.

“To get the full marathon distance the route will be done twice,” she said.

“I wanted to include a route that would show Ben around St Andrews and also include West Sands.”

Sarah hopes to join him at some point on the run and other members of STAART are planning to give Ben a big St Andrews running welcome.

As well as setting a new world record, Ben has a more serious aim – to raise awareness of bullying, raise £250,000 for two charities dedicated to tackling bullying, Stonewall and Kidscape, and inspire others to push their limits.

Ben (33), from Bristol, knows the impact of bullying. He was bullied at school and it had long-lasting repercussions, leading to depression and suicide attempts.

Three years ago he was overweight and depressed and, needing something to focus on, he started running.

The 401 Challenge isn’t about being a victim, it is about showing people that no matter what you go through growing up, there can always be a positive outcome.

Ben Smith

“I got a sense of accomplishment I had never felt before, I was hooked,” recalled. “Having never been good at sport at school you could say I started from nothing which made the achievement even sweeter.”

He pinpoints the turning point in his life to when he came out as gay two years ago.

“The bullying I had faced at school had stripped me of my ability to accept who I was but this was no more,” he explained.

He added: “The 401 Challenge isn’t about being a victim, it is about showing people that no matter what you go through growing up, there can always be a positive outcome.”

For more about the challenge and how to help, go to The 401 Challenge.