The 401 Challenge Returns To Leeds

Ben Fraser

On September 1st 2015, 34 year old Ben Smith set off to run 10,506.2 miles – the same distance as 401 marathons – in 401 days. Ben was bullied at school so badly that he attempted to take his own life.  He suffered depression for many years after leaving school and university, despite a successful corporate career, and had a TIA (mini-stroke) at the very young age of 29.  As part of his return to health, Ben was dragged along to a running club by a friend and found running was something he could be passionate about and could help him rebuild his confidence and self-esteem.  When Ben finally overcame his demons he wanted to use his experiences to help other people and raise awareness of the harmful effects of bullying and so The 401 Challenge was born.   The objectives of the Challenge are:


  • Raise £250,000 for two anti-bullying charities Stonewall and Kidscape – so far, over £110,000 has been raised
  • Raise awareness of the harmful effects of bullying – visits to 84 schools have taken place
  • To get as many people involved as possible – more than 6,600 people have run with Ben
  • Run 10,506.2 miles in 401 days, which is the distance from Bristol to Sydney – 8,706miles run so far, less than 2,000 to go
  • Inspire people to take on their own personal challenges – nearly 770 people have achieved personal bests for distance running with Ben, and more than 300 have run the marathon distance for the first time in their lives
  • Ben has participated in 7 official marathons including London Marathon but will complete a total of 8 by the end of this project. 
  • Ben is currently on his 19th pair of trainers ….


Ben has had public support from the likes of Dame Kelly Holmes, Olympians Steve Cram, Paula Radcliffe, Daley Thompson and further support from Stonewall founder Baron Cashman, Rio Ferdinand, Tim Henman and Chris Evans.


On Thursday 4th & 5th August Ben will return to Leeds to complete two more marathon distances, joined by the Abbey Runners and Horsforth Harriers, and you can join him for all or part of his runs – each run will start at 10am from the designated start point, stopping for lunch and finishing around 4pm. To join his simply get hold of one of the organisers (Andy or Jon) listed below.



4th  AugustLeeds – Abbey Runners – Andy Wicks on 07712 529436 – start: Lord Darcy Pub, 618 Harrogate Road, Alwoodley, Leeds LS17 8EH


5th AugustLeeds – Horsforth Harriers – Ron Taverner – 07795 453369 – start: Horsforth Sports Club, Brownberrie Land, Leeds, LS18 5SD





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