Marathon man Ben Smith was delighted to be joined by local runners in Leven this morning (Wednesday) when he set out for the latest leg of his challenge to run 401 marathons back-to-back on consecutive days.
He set off from The Lemon Tree cafe and for marathon number 275 and keeping him company along part of his route were supporters, including workers from Diageo and police officers.
His 26-mile route takes in the walking/cycle path from the Windygates Road to the Kennoway Road, skirts the top of the Broom, Blacketyside, Leven and Lundin Links Golf Course, Lundin Links and Lower Largo.
As well as setting a new world record, Ben (33) has a more serious aim – to increase awareness of bullying, raise £250,000 for two charities dedicated to tackling bullying, Stonewall and Kidscape, and inspire others to push their own limits.
Ben, from Bristol, knows from experience the impact bullying can have, not just at the time but for years to come.
He was bullied at school and it had long-lasting repercussions, leading to depression and suicide attempts in his 20s.
Three years ago he was stressed, overweight and depressed and, needing something to focus on, he started running.
“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.”
Ben has certainly pushed his own limits with the challenge - last week some recurring pain he had been suffering was diagnosed as a hernia so he has been taking it easier.
He set out from Bristol on September 1 last year and to date has run more than 7000 miles.
Tomorrow (Thursday) he will be running in St Andrews, setting off from Guardbridge at 10am.
For more about the challenge go to 401 Challenge.