401 Challenge marathon man launches crowdfunding appeal to support grassroots projects

PUBLISHED: 07:00 26 April 2018

Ben Smith after the London Marathon.

Ben Smith after the London Marathon.

Ben Smith

The Portishead man who completed 401 marathons in as many days has launched a crowdfunding appeal to help grassroots projects.

Ben Smith collecting the Helen Rollason Award from Paula Radcliffe and Tom Daley. Photographer: Kieron McCarron (BBC)Ben Smith collecting the Helen Rollason Award from Paula Radcliffe and Tom Daley. Photographer: Kieron McCarron (BBC)

Ben Smith, aged 36, completed the final day of The 401 Challenge on October 5, 2016, having run with more than 9,500 people across the 401 days.

He raised £330,000 for anti-bullying charities Stonewall and Kidscape and shone a light on the issues of bullying and mental health and inspired tens of thousands of people to positively change their lives.

Ben and his team have earned a plethora of awards, including the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Helen Rollason Awards in 2016 and The Pride of Britain ITV National Fundraiser of the Year Award 2016 since finishing the challenge.

He launched The 401 Foundation in April last year and one year on it has begun its first crowdfunding appeal.

401 Marathon runner Ben Smith organising a running festival for his 401 Foundation at Woodhill near Portishead Lake Grounds.401 Marathon runner Ben Smith organising a running festival for his 401 Foundation at Woodhill near Portishead Lake Grounds.

The foundation aims to award grants between £3-5,000 to small community projects and individuals which build confidence and self-esteem, while tackling the issues surrounding mental health and self-development.

Ben said: “So many people got involved in The 401 Challenge, I just couldn’t leave it there when it ended.

“This is when I had the idea of The 401 Foundation. The purpose of the charity is to give out small grants which can go a long way towards supporting causes which make a difference in their area.”

Over the next five years, charity hopes to hand out £1.5million in grants annually to around 450 different projects and individuals.

Ben Smith in the yellow bandana arrives with supporters.Ben Smith in the yellow bandana arrives with supporters.

The crowdfunding appeal, which launched on Sunday as Ben took part in the London Marathon, aims to raise £104,401 which will help the foundation get ready to start handing out grants in April next year.

Ben said: “So many people supported us with the 401 Challenge, I felt crowdfunding was the best way to give the wider public a chance to get involved in The 401 Foundation.

“Once again, I am truly overwhelmed by the amount of support we have received.

“More than 300 people donated money or purchased rewards on our campaign in a matter of hours after it launched yesterday, that is amazing.

Ben Smith's marathon effort in numbers.Ben Smith's marathon effort in numbers.

“The amount raised will allow The 401 Foundation to support great projects all over the UK and I can’t wait to get stuck in.”

For more information, visit www.crowdfunder.co.uk/401

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