Club helps Ben with his marathon effort

Ben Smith, second from left, with Morpeth Harriers members Andrew Richardson, Damian Forster, Lorna MacDonald and Emma Sanderson. Picture by Hudson Stoker.
Ben Smith, second from left, with Morpeth Harriers members Andrew Richardson, Damian Forster, Lorna MacDonald and Emma Sanderson. Picture by Hudson Stoker.

A man who ran a marathon distance in Morpeth on Monday as part of his incredible running challenge thanked an athletics club for its support.

Ben Smith is attempting to run 401 marathons in 401 consecutive days across the UK to raise awareness of bullying issues.

He has a fund-raising target of £250,000 for two charities that tackle bullying – Kidscape and Stonewall.

The 33-year-old, who lives near Bristol, was bullied at school and tried to take his own life following a nervous breakdown. He recovered and after taking up running, initially to lose weight, he completed marathons on a regular basis.

This led to the creation of The 401 Challenge.

Morpeth was run number 189. He set off from near to the Morpeth Harriers’ headquarters on Mitford Road and ran three circuits of a course that was specially designed and organised for him on behalf of the club by appointed road race director Kevin Bray.

Ben said: “This took two-and-a-half years to plan and I’m determined to complete the challenge to raise vital funds for two charities that will support people going through experiences similar to what I went through.

“The support for the project is growing each day and we’re starting to receive national media coverage.

“Without the support of running clubs, I would not have been able to attempt this challenge. Morpeth Harriers has been amazing and as well as organising this route, some of its runners accompanied me during the run – a great effort on a working day.”

The course included Mitford Village, Mitford Steads, Tranwell, Glororum, Clifton, then back into Morpeth via the Golf Club and the Sun Inn, and on to Carlisle Park then High Stanners through to Mitford Road again.

Kevin said: “Ben is an inspirational guy. He was in good spirits and really up for the run, even though he had done 188 marathons in the previous 188 days.

“He has shown amazing determination and it is clear how important the two charities are to him.”

For more information about the initiative, and to make a donation, visit www.the401challenge.co.uk