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Gay Man Runs Marathons Against Bullying at School

(Blogmensgo, gay blog vom 10. Oktober 2016) Ben Smith, a 34-year-old man, is gay and fights against homophobic bullying at school. During his own school time in Bristol, UK, he was constantly bullied because of his homosexuality, and this is why he wants to do something against bullying and harassment at school. During his project “The 401 Challenge,” he ran 401 marathons in 401 days and collected funds for the good cause.

He ran his first marathon on September 1st, 2015 and the last one on October 5th, 2016, both of them in his hometown of Bristol. In between, he ran across most of the roads of England. In the beginning, he was almost by himself, just accompanied by his partner and a few other adults. However, he crossed the last finish line with 350 other people, mostly children.

Here is a short but moving BBC report on Ben’s “401 Challenge:”

As initially planned, Ben’s marathon running program actually took 401 days only although he had to take a 10-day break in between due to health problems. However, he caught up his delay later on.

A total of 250,000 GBP (about 284,000 EUR) in donations were expected. This goal was achieved even before the last leg but donations are still accepted now. The funds will benefit Kidscape and Stonewall, two associations fighting against bullying at school.

“I was bullied for eight years of my life at school. It affected my confidence and self-esteem and that led to me trying to take my own life when I was 18.”
Ben Smith

This was before his coming-out. Ever since he has lived as a gay man openly, he has been fighting to make people understand how much damage bullying causes in schools and that a different sexual orientation is no reason for bullying and hatred. The goal of his marathon project was to encourage discussion about this subject, to make people understand these problems and to collect funds for this good cause.

In total, Ben Smith has run a distance of 16,920.2 km for his objective. Considering that most people cannot even run a regular marathon (i.e. 42.2 km) in one go, not even slowly, we can only begin to understand and value Ben Smith’s will, tenacity and unbelievable generosity. Respect for such a high achievement!

Frank-S / MensGo
Main source: BBC, October 5, 2016.
Other source: rtl.be, October 6, 2016.

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