Well my name is Ben, I am 33 years old and currently live just outside Bristol in the South West of the UK. I am a pretty normal guy but I think what makes me slightly different is my past.
At the age of 10 I went away to school. My father was in the forces and at the time we lived in Germany and to ensure my schooling wasn’t affected the decision was taken to send me to boarding school in the UK. Coming from a very close and supportive family environment I found myself alone and very insecure; it would be fair to say it was a shock to the system and a change I wasn’t completely prepared for, this meant I was an easy target for school bullies unfortunately.
Over the following years I became more and more reclusive and unsure of myself. I turned from an outgoing and excitable child into a very shy and under confident individual. The daily physical and emotional abuse broke me and unfortunately at the age of 18 I tried to take my own life after suffering a nervous breakdown. Growing up is hard enough without having to through mental and physical abuse at the hands of your peers.
The turning point for me came when I was 31, after years of doing what others wanted me to do, acting in a way others told me to act I took charge of my life and finally came out as gay. It suddenly felt like my life made sense, no longer did I pretend to be happy or act in a certain way to successfully fool people. I was finally 100% congruent with myself, which brought about feelings of complete inner peace and strength. The bullying I had faced at school had stripped me of my ability to accept who I was but this was no more.
Around 3 years ago I started running; I got into it as a way of reducing stress in my life. I was overweight, depressed and needed something to focus on. I can’t count the number of times I had watched the Virgin London Marathon on TV and wished I could do something like that. I started with running a few miles and then built this up and completed a few 10K races and then my first half marathon in 2012. The feeling I got from running was a sense of accomplishment I had never felt before, I was hooked. Having never been very good at sport at school you could say I had started from nothing which made the achievement even sweeter.
Around 2 years ago I decided to plan a challenge that at the time I honestly didn’t feel like I would be able to do; this is where The 401 Challenge was born.
Fast forward to November 2016 and I am now proud to say I am the record holder for the most conseuctive marathons, 401 in 401 days!