Run­ner’s marathon ef­fort to tackle bul­ly­ing

Macclesfield Express - - FRONT PAGE -

A MAN who is run­ning an in­cred­i­ble 401 con­sec­u­tive marathons in a cam­paign against bul­ly­ing has brought his chal­lenge to town.

Ben Smith, 33, sold his house and gave up his job in or­der to take on the mam­moth fundrais­ing chal­lenge, which he hopes will raise aware­ness of bul­ly­ing and vi­tal funds for anti-bul­ly­ing char­i­ties.

He in­vited school chil­dren and the Mac­cles­field Har­ri­ers to join him on his 133rd race, which started at the Mac­cles­field Leisure Cen­tre and took him twice around the route of the Mac­cles­field Half Marathon.

Neil Gunn, Mac­cles­field Har­ri­ers trea­surer, said: “The ded­i­ca­tion of the man is be­yond any­thing you can imag­ine.

“I’ve run a marathon and know how hard it is. Even if he feels grotty he can’t take a day off or he won’t achieve his goal.

“How his body is hold­ing up I have no idea. I feel priv­i­leged to be part of it all.”

Ben, who tried to take his life twice as a re­sult of bul­ly­ing and de­pres­sion, met with pupils from St John the Evan­ge­list and Gawsworth Pri­mary Schools to talk about his ex­pe­ri­ences be­fore they all took to the ath­let­ics track to com­plete the first mile to­gether.

He was also joined by mem­bers of the Mac­cles­field Har­ri­ers, in­clud­ing ‘marathon man’ pen­sioner Harry New­ton, 78, who has raised £10,000s for char­ity, who com­pleted half the route, and Hazel Win­der, 65, who took on the full dis­tance.

Ben, who be­gan his record break­ing at­tempt on Septem­ber 1 last year, said: “I lived my whole adult life in a state of de­pres­sion up to age 30, but it all changed when I found run­ning. I was never very sporty but a mate sug­gested I join a run­ning club which helped me build self­es­teem. Then I tried, and loved, my first marathon so this seemed the per­fect way to raise money for char­i­ties I’m pas­sion­ate about.”

Ben, who has so far raised more than £25,000 to be split be­tween anti-bul­ly­ing char­ity Kid­scape and LGBT rights char­ity Stonewall, will re­turn to Mac­cles­field for an­other marathon in April.

The Ath­let­ics Track at Mac­cles­field Leisure Cen­tre was pro­vided free of use thanks to Ev­ery­body Sport and Recre­ation Trust.

To spon­sor him go to uk.vir­gin­money­giv­ing. com/the401chal­lenge.

Matt Rat­cliffe

●● Ben Smith, who is in the middle of his 401 chal­lenge, was joined by stu­dents from St John the Evan­ge­list and Gawsworth pri­mary schools

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