Date: 
Thursday, September 17, 2015 - 17:15

A charity fundraiser who is aiming to run 401 marathons in 401 consecutive days completed the Eden Project’s marathon course today.

Ben Smith, 33, from Portishead near Bristol, is aiming to raise £250,000 for the charities Stonewall and Kidscape and raise awareness of bullying in the UK.

During his trip, he hopes to engage as many people along the way and inspire others to push their limits.

The run on the Eden course was the 17th in his gruelling schedule.

The Eden Marathon course starts and finishes at the Eden Project and takes a scenic route through mid-Cornwall, scaling Helman Tor, taking in the striking “clay country” and going through the picturesque Luxulyan Valley. The annual Eden Marathon and Half-Marathon returns on Sunday October 18 and registration is open now.

Ben was guided on his run by Doug Alsop, Jodie Gauld, Geoff Bazeley and Sarah Bazeley of St. Austell Running Club. The club devised the course and work with Eden as partners on the project’s marathon and half-marathon.

After running, Ben said: “This is one of the most varied marathon courses I’ve ever run. It takes you from the top of a tor to running next to waterfalls, up and down trails and through mud pits. I had an amazing time and will definitely be recommending it.”

Ben suffered bullying throughout his school life and this resulted in a nervous breakdown, depression and suicide attempts. He started to find inner peace when he came out as gay and found running to be an outlet to express himself and set himself a physical challenge.

The 401 Challenge became a reality after two years of training. Last year, Ben ran 18 marathons to prepare himself for the physical challenges.

In total, he will cover 10,506 miles – equivalent to the distance between London and Sydney – and will run marathon routes across the UK. He is being supported by more than 250 running clubs and more than 200 physical therapists across the country will help keep his body in peak condition.

Stonewall is the leading lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans equality charity. It was founded in 1989 by a group of people who wanted to break down the barriers to equality. Stonewall continue to campaign and lobby government to change laws to ensure everyone, everywhere is free to be themselves.

Kidscape believe that all children should be able to grow up in a world free from bullying and abuse, and that all adults should keep children safe and help them to reach their full potential. Kidscape’s mission is to ensure children live in a safe and nurturing environment. By providing training, support and advice to children, parents, schools and those in professional contact with young people, they enable them to gain knowledge and develop the confidence and skills to challenge abuse and bullying in all its forms.

In last year’s Eden Project Marathon, St. Austell Running Club’s Phil Montgomery-Smith was the first-placed man with a time of three hours, nine minutes and 14 seconds and Isobel Wykes of Mud Crew Trail Runners was the fastest woman with a time of three hours, 33 minutes and 56 seconds.

In the half-marathon, Dan Alsop, another St. Austell Running Club member, won with a time of one hour, 19 minutes and 52 seconds and the fastest woman was Kathryn Burgess of Cornwall Athletic Club who finished in one hour, 32 minutes and 17 seconds.

Entrance to the half-marathon costs £23 for affiliated runners and £25 for unaffiliated runners. The marathon costs £30 for affiliated runners and £32 for unaffiliated runners. There is also an optional “pasta party” for runners on the day before the race, costing £7 per person. Race and pasta party bookings can be made online at www.edenproject.com/marathon. Entries to both races close on October 1.

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