I had the opportunity to go and see Ben Smith of the 401 Challenge last night, who was speaking as part of his USA 2020 Talk Tour. I went into this pretty blind, only knowing that Ben had successfully run 401 marathons in 401 days, during 2015 and 2016!
This was a very raw and emotional talk. No PowerPoint, just a very direct and honest account. The journey took us starting from Ben’s childhood, unhappy schooldays (bullied at boarding school), and suicide attempts. At age 39, weighing 17 or so stone, drinking heavily, and smoking 40 (!) a day, he suffered an incomplete stroke. This was a catalyst for a life change, ultimately leading Ben to running…
This was a great balance to the talk: Ultimately, I think it is more interesting to hear about motivation and overcoming adversity, than just the fact someone has run a lot of marathons. So kudos to Ben for being so forthright about his life experiences here.
Ben and his team are now preparing for the next challenge: Running in every state over 104 days. Oh, and cycling between each one in between! A total distance of 18,500 miles! The logistics alone make me come up in a bit of a cold sweat.
Ben has done great work for charity throughout all of this, as well as getting schools involved to feature the project as part of their education.
Perhaps I should actually do a marathon one day?
Thanks to Waverley Harriers for organising Ben’s attendance in Godalming!