Following the two visits of Ben Smith to the city in January and August (see 401 days 343 and 344)and following his progress since late 2015, I had committed to run his final marathon on 5 October 2016. Ben starting his challenge on 1 September 2015, running the equivalent of 401 marathons in as many days around the country to raise awareness of bullying and raise £250,000 for Kidscape and Stonewall, two anti bullying charities. In the process nearly 10,000 people have run with Ben and over 1,200 have run further than they ever have before. he has also visited 101 schools and gone through 22 pairs of trainers. Much more details about his challenge and the stats is on www.the401challenge.co.uk.
A months before his final marathon was due Ben announced that the final marathon would now be a virtual event rather than a formal one. This was so all entry fees went 100& to the charities as the ethos of the project was fundraising and raising awareness over a big finale event. I could have still gone to Bristol on 5 October to run the final marathon, but instead I opted to run the virtual version near home with friend, Kris Hopkins, who couldn't get to Bristol midweek but wanted to take part. Others in the area will be or have done the same from 2nd to 9th October.
Kris and I agreed to run our marathon on 2nd October and Kris plotted a route that involved a few hills (his argument being it would be good training for me pre the Snowdonia Marathon in 4 weeks). I bought into this logic somehow! We headed off to Elloughton near Brough about 8 miles west of Kingston upon Hull and at the foot of the Yorkshire Wolds! With our homemade Virtual 401 Marathon numbers we began our event just after 9:15am, with a hill climb into the woods!
Being just us two running, we had to factor in having drinks available and do our own photo's as well as rely on GPS for mile updates. A dog walker kindly took a pre event picture for us and off we went, with water in hand to leave at strategic places and collect/drink later. Thankfully it wasn't as hot as some recent weeks and with plenty of the route through wooded areas it helped keep it cool. We also did a live post on Facebook - a first for me - as we set off. Ben loves doing these so seemed a good idea to follow in his footsteps!
We plodded round at a very steady pace of around 10 minute miles - this reflected the fact we had two big hill climbs in the first few miles as well. Kris loves a hill and they were mostly off road. It felt like I was back on the London to Brighton Ultra from May. We made no attempts to pick up speed and took it steady up the hills (happily walking a bit to conserve energy). Some of the views made it worthwhile as we looked out over the Humber Estuary and Yorkshire Wolds. The route took in loops, which we had covered on a training run a few months earlier. As we neared the end of the second loop we hit the half way point and I went live on Facebook again as we headed downhill on the edge of a field. Shortly afterwards my Garmin froze in terms of distance. I realised about 0.4 miles later when Kris bleeped and I didn't. At our water stop at 14.6 miles I reengaged it but had the back up of Kris's Garmin and my phone tracker for our distance.
Left - Lucas around mile 16, right - Kris at 17.5 approx
Donate to Ben’s target of £250,000 at www.the401challenge.co.uk supporting these two anti bullying campaigns
The 401 Virtual Marathon - part of the 401 Challenge