Back in January 2016 local running club, East Hull Harriers (EHH) hosted a chap called Ben Smith for two days. Ben was undertaking a challenge to run 401 marathons over as many consecutive days around the UK. At this stage he was at days 139/140 and his story was still growing. I'd only discovered it a few weeks earlier and joined some of the route on the first day visit going round a route used for a 10K on Boxing Day to the East of the city after he'd run the East Hull 20 race route beforehand (see East Hull 20 report for more info). He repeated the same the following day, both primarily with a crowd from EHH and a few extras. I had the pleasure of hosting Ben for dinner the night before the first of these visits and learning more of his background story and why he'd chosen to run for Stonewall and Kidscape.
From there I had offered to help sort Ben's return trip for marathons 343 and 344 in early August. Whilst not a member of EHH I had enjoyed the effort they'd made to welcome Ben and support him and the interested they'd shown in coming along again on his return. I also had found a new running partner, Kris Hopkins (and a few others) for training as we both reside in East Hull (although I'm a member of Beverley AC). This helped fuel the fire for Ben's return visit. In the interim time Ben had had to miss ten days running due to a spinal injury and change the objectives of the challenge to run the equivalent of 401 marathons in mileage over the 401 days (in other words make up the missing 10 marathons with extra miles most days before the final day). That's still 10,506.2 miles!
I wanted to show Ben the city and beyond but take him to other areas not seen on his January trip. As his visit didn't clash with the RB Hull Marathon (on 18 September) I discussed with the event Delivery Group (of which I'm one) the idea of us hosting him and taking him round the marathon course in full on a normal working day. To make it different to marathon day we started at Sirius Academy in the west of the city, who kindly enabled us to run around the school grounds and through the building as the official course does (usually at mile 21-22) and the City's Mayor, Sean Chaytor, came and greeted Ben on behalf of the city as well as the Town Crier, Michael Wood. We also had the BBC filming for the local news and Ben had been on BBC Humberside that morning. With well over 70 people sending Ben off from the start, a dozen joined him for the full distance that day with around 40 dipping in at other points of the course.
Above - Ben running through ABP Docks
Left - coming over the Humber bridge Northbound with David Harrison
Below - Lucas introduces Ben watched on by the Mayor, Town Crier and 70 others off camers!