A former Teesside student returns to Middlesbrough tomorrow in a mind-boggling mega marathon challenge – and the town’s runners are being urged to get involved.
Ben Smith is currently running 401 marathons on 401 consecutive days, and he’s looking for company and fund-raising support along the way.
Middlesbrough will be the setting for his 177th 26.2-mile challenge, tomorrow (Wednesday February 24) Ben attempts to break a world record. He starts this stage at 9.30am in the morning at Middlesbrough Town Hall, please drop down and support him in his incredible challenge.
The 33-year-old set out on his mammoth quest on September 1 last year, and his journey will see him run in more than 300 different locations around the UK mainland, covering more than 10,500 miles in all.
Ben’s Middlesbrough route was drawn up by local Swift-tees and NYMAC runner Iona Leigh-Jones who will be joining him on the day with local runners invited to join him along some or all of the course. Iona tells me, “Ben is raising funds for Kidscape an anti bullying charity and we will be joined by local school children from Acklam Whin, Captain Cook and Nunthorpe Primary school on some of the route.”
“Ben is also raising funds for Stonewall an anti hate charity and his ethos is about making the world a kinder, positive place.”
Full details of the run and approximate timings are available at the bottom of the page. Ben is expected to start from the Town Hall at around 9.30am, before visiting local landmarks including the Riverside Stadium, Temenos, the Tees Transporter Bridge and Teesside University.
He’ll be running at a steady 11- to 12-minute-mile pace so runners of all abilities will be able join in – meet at the Town Hall at 9.15am for a 9.30am start, and stops are planned after around 10 miles at the Habinteg Centre in Hemlington and then at around 19/20 miles at Henry’s café in Stewart Park.
Organisers also hope to work with local schools and businesses along the route to spread his anti-bullying message. Acklam Whin, Captain Cook and Nunthorpe primary have already come forward.
Mum of two Iona said: “When I heard about Ben’s extraordinary challenge from a fellow Parkrunner and fund-raiser, I just had to get involved and do my bit.
“We have some great running clubs in Middlesbrough and lots of wonderful people who will be keen to help him reach his goal.
“It’s not just a mind-boggling world record – it’s a chance to make a real difference with some fantastic charities.
“I hope as many people as possible will sign up and keep Ben company – he can look forward to a very warm welcome from Middlesbrough.”
Iona told me that she has recently met up with Ben, when he was running in Yorkshire. She said, “I met Ben at Harrogate parkrun 2 weeks ago, he was extremely upbeat and cheerful. Ben used to be a student in Teesside and has spent sometime working in the town. He said he was looking forward to revisiting and especially running around Albert Park.”
Ben Smith will get to see at first hand just what an enthusiastic sporty and indeed running town Middlesbrough has become. I asked Iona about this.
“We are extremely lucky to have two parkruns in our town and the positivity that brings is infectious.”
“What is important to me is running is about being fit for life,” she added. “The running community of Middlesbrough has just grown and grown thanks to local running groups and parkrun.”
I know Iona from training together at swift-tees, a community running group that meet every Wednesday tea time in Hemlington at the Habinteg Centre (behind the shops) after 6pm. The group welcomes all, any age or ability can run, jog or walk around Hemlington lake and then enjoy a cup of tea and a chat afterwards. If you are lucky there are home made cakes as well as biscuits to munch on.
Iona says: “All are welcome to join in/support – it’s great to be part of it in a great running town.”
To find out more about Ben Smith’s 401 Challenge, visit www.the401challenge.co.uk or follow his progress via Facebook.
Details of his proposed Middlesbrough route can be found here: http://www.mapmyrun.com/routes/view/969197727
Local runners hoping to join the run are asked to contact Iona at firstname.lastname@example.org
Route details – we are due to start at 0930 hours at Middlesbrough Town Hall, so we hope to congregate at 0915 hours onwards.
11 Min mile pace.
Riverside Stadium- Mile 1 @ 0941 hours
Newport Bridge- Mile 5@ 1025 hours
Bluebell Hotel – Mile 9 @1105 hours
Habinteg Centre- Mile 10 and half 1120 hours – 30 mins break
Marton Shops -Mile 15 ish – 1244 hours
Nunthorpe Squash Club- Mile 16 -1300 hours
Henrys Cafe (Stewart Park for a 20 min break) 1335 hours
Albert Park-23 miles -1430 hours
Finish at Town Hall – 1500 hours ( ish)
12 Min mile pace.
Riverside Stadium- Mile 1 @ 0942 hours
Newport Bridge- Mile 5@ 1030 hours
Bluebell Hotel – Mile 9 @1115 hours
Habinteg Centre- Mile 10 and half 1135 hours – 30 mins break
Marton Shops -Mile 15 ish – 1257 hours
Nunthorpe Squash Club- Mile 16 -1312 hours
Henrys Cafe (Stewart Park for a 20 min break) 1350 hours
Albert Park-23 miles -1456 hours
Finish at Town Hall – 1530 hours ( ish)