Quite possibly the last book review of the year, and without doubt the best book of the year. I’m talking about 401 by Ben Smith.
As the tagline states, he ran 401 marathons in 401 days, raising money for two charities close to his heart. If the book was only about running then it wouldn’t have a wider appeal, but it is also about the bullying he suffered at school. His aim was not just to raise money for Stonewall and Kidscape, but also raise awareness about bullying.
I was fortunate enough to meet and run with Ben when he was in Lancaster.
A more friendly person you could not hope to meet. He had time for everyone who had turned out to run with him. This was back in March 2016 and the weather was appalling, chucking it down, although there was a good turnout from Morecambe Athletics and Running Club.
I was running with Nelly, although she wasn’t keen on waiting around and it was the first time that I had run with her in a group. She was an absolute pest, wanting to be at the front. She was such a pain that I cut our run with Ben short, but he still found the time to wish me luck in my triple ironman race that I was planning on doing later that year (read about it here).
Back to the book, and one of the reasons that it affected me was because I was also bullied at school. I hated school so much I couldn’t wait to leave. Bullying turned me inwards. I tried not to be noticed in class, and as a result my grades suffered, which became a vicious circle, convincing me that I was thick. 20 years after I left school I went to Lancaster University to study Environmental Science and since then completed a PhD. Not thick then.
I wish that I had found out about Ben earlier on in his 401 marathons, because he ran for two days in Hull, when I was living there.
You should read this book as it is utterly inspirational, and I’ve struggled to find the words to do the book and Ben’s story justice.