My Run With Ben From The 401 Challenge

Dalia Hawley

I first met Ben last year when he came to Leeds. I had heard about this man running 401 marathons in 401 days for anti-bullying campaigns – something that is very close to my heart due to my own personal bullying experiences. I also found out that he was actually from my home town of Portishead too.


When I heard he was back in Leeds I had to go and see him again. This time the run was organized by Abbey Runners who put on a fantastic route. I had college in the evening so as tempting as it was to run the full marathon I knew I had to keep a check on myself and check on everyone who were trying to convince me that it would totally fine to run a marathon!


The great thing about running with Ben is that it’s more of a social run, there are loop backs, a very steady pace and lots of stopping for Ben to eat! In addition, he will often run with the slowest runner. Many people, including myself, have gone onto run full marathons with him, conquering their longest distances.


We all met Thursday morning on Harrogate road, had our pictures taken with some local press and lots of selfies with Ben before setting off. The route took us to Shadwell, Wike, Eccup, Otley Road, Meanwood Park, Stonegate road and back to Moortown. The weather was pretty eclectic! There was some heavy rain around Eccup and I remember myself and this girl stopping to help each other into our running jackets and commenting that we couldn’t see!


One of the many great things about running with Ben is the friends you make. You chat to people, you run with them and everyone helps each other out – from sharing water to keeping each other motivated. Ben himself is always in good spirits and joking and laughing along with us. I’ve made some really lovely friends from my 401 times.


There was a stop off at around 8 miles for food, us feasting on gels, nuts, energy bars and topping up our caffeine stores while Ben ploughed through a fry up! My legs were starting to feel it at this point as I hadn’t ran 8 miles for a while! It had also got quite warm. We finished off and continued down to Meanwood then Stonegate road. I found this hill a bit of a challenge as I’m used to steep fell hills or trail hills so road ones, although still hard, I have always found them far less scary than the Moors! 


I knew for a lot of people that this was the road they were all dreading. I got my head down, switched gears and started up. I did have to stop at one point and a lovely member of Wakefield Triathlon club came up beside me and told me to stay in a rhythm with her so I did and that made it better. Also a lovely lady from Abbey Runners fed me fruit juice! A few of them were cycling the route and had bought drinks and stuff with them! I knew at this point I’d either need to finish in Moortown so I had two choices, run home or get the bus.


I had already set myself the challenge of running home but I wanted to give myself time to change clothes, recover and rest before college. Once an idea gets into my head, it doesn’t go away easily! Also if Ben can do a marathon everyday I can stop moaning that my legs hurt and I can run home! We got close to Moortown, the half marathon point. I gave Ben and my new buddies a big hug, wished them all well then ran (downhill thankfully) all the way home, clocking up a nice 16.55 (round that up and call it 17) miles home!


Ben will be finishing up in the North West very soon before heading back south towards home,  but if you are visiting an area that he is running in, please do go and join him as the man will be sure to inspire you!



Find out if your anywhere near Ben’s next marathon here:


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