Thursday the 31st of March – the day I “accidentally” ran a marathon
For those not in the know, the 401 challenge was thought up by a man named Ben Smith. After being bullied as a child he has decided to take on the huge challenge of running 401 marathons over 401 consecutive days to try and raise £250,000 for 2 anti-bullying charities – Stonewall and Kidscape.
After hearing about the 401 challenge from a Red Rose email a few months back, and deciding I was going to take part, the only decision left was how far to run.
Still wanting to be fresh for parkrun on Saturday (I have a string of PBs to keep up!), I decided I would turn up and try to run half of the route. The pace was going to be slow so I thought matching my previous distance record of 13.1 miles should be a decent but not too strenuous challenge.
We all met up in Bamber Bridge where we met the man himself Ben Smith. After Ben took a selfie with every runner (which he does every day!) and a few publicity shots for the paper and channel 5 news (Stu Cann did his hair especially!) we were on our way!
The route had been planned by Red Rose (more specifically John Rogerson) and was a short run down the old tram road, a full lap of the Guild Wheel and back again. Doesn’t sound too bad right?
It was a beautiful day and by the time we had reached out first pit stop at Brockholes visitor centre (7 miles in), people were starting to peel off the extra layers. One of our fellow runners was celebrating a birthday, so led by Stuart Cann (who failed to mention the ladies name) we all sang “…happy birthday dear ????…” followed by cake!!!
At this point I was feeling pretty good and started thinking I could maybe do more than the 13.1 miles I had decided on. We had been told the next stop off was at a pub at around the 15.5 mile mark so I decided to see if I could break my distance record and make it there.
Having never been on the guild wheel I didn’t know what to expect but the miles ticked away nicely taking in the scenery and chatting with the other runners and with Ben about the incredible challenge he has set himself.
When we hit the half way mark, I still felt pretty good and was starting to believe I might actually be able to make it to the pub at the 15.5 mile mark.
The lunch stop was at a pub called the Guild Merchant which gave everyone a well needed rest and a chance to replace some of the lost calories. That was helped by the second birthday cake of the day turning up!
After lunch I decided that I would set off with everybody and just see how far I could go until the inevitable happened and my legs just gave out. Surprisingly, it wasn’t until mile 21 that the pain really kicked in in my legs. I thought about stopping, and as if a sign from a higher power, my GPS watch also packed in!
But, after words of encouragement from my fellow runners (and someone pointing out I could use the Strava app on my phone to record the rest of the run!) I decided “well, it’s only 5 more miles, how bad could it be?”.
As it turned out the route was actually 27.2 miles in total and the final 6 miles were the hardest miles I have ever done and I have to give a special thanks to Stu Cann and another Red Roser (so sorry, but I have forgotten his name) for getting me through them. Also a big shout out to Lynn Melvin who gave me encouragement throughout the day and the belief I could get through it!
Getting to the end was a massive relief and, if I wasn’t in so much pain, I would have felt a huge sense of achievement.
I want to say a massive well done to everyone who took part. There were a few people who ran personal best distances and quite a few brand new marathon runners in the group as well.
But the real credit has to go to Ben. We had all just run 27.2 miles and could look forward to at least a few days rest. Ben though had just completed his 213th straight marathon, a total of 5580.6 miles, and still has 188 more to run over the next 188 days! If you would like to sponsor him you can text BEN to 70660 to donate £5 or you can visit his virgin money page at
Well done Liam. Of course, I didn’t go through the pain with you on the day, but I’ve been there! Good write-up too.