Marathon runner Ben Smith announces USA Challenge plans

Ben Smith training for the 401 Foundation USA Challenge, which is due to take place in May 2022.

Ben Smith training for the 401 Foundation USA Challenge, which is due to take place in May 2022. - Credit: 401 Foundation

Ultra-endurance athlete Ben Smith is set to take on his next monumental challenge following its postponements due to the pandemic. 

In 2015-16, Portishead-based Ben self-funded a challenge which saw him run 401 marathons in 401 days, raising more than £330,000 for two anti-bullying charities, Stonewall and Kidscape. 

Next year, on May 10, he will set off on his next challenge - to run and cycle 14,000 miles across 50 US States in 104 days. He will run a marathon in every state of America and cycle between each one, with an aim of raising £500,000 for charity. 

401 Marathon runner Ben Smith organising a running festival for his 401 Foundation at Woodhill near

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

The original USA Challenge was set to take place in 2020, but due to ongoing restrictions, as well as the financial impact of the pandemic, Ben postponed the event twice. The 2022 challenge is set to take place as a solo expedition without a support team, unless further financial support is secured. 

Ben created the USA Challenge to raise awareness of mental health challenges and to raise vital funds for The 401 Foundation. The charity provides grants of £100 to £3,000 to community and grassroots projects that help build self-esteem, confidence and promote mental wellbeing. 

The challenge will consist of 12,690 miles of cycling, 1,310 running miles and more than one million calories burnt, which Ben is currently training for.

Ben Smith training for the 401 Foundation USA Challenge, which is due to take place in 2021. Pictu

Ben Smith training for the 401 Foundation USA Challenge, which is due to take place in 2021. Picture: 401 Foundation - Credit: 401 Foundation

Ben said: “I am honestly overjoyed to announce that our plans for The USA Challenge will go ahead, despite all the past year has thrown at us. I can’t deny it has been a difficult journey and there have been times when I’ve questioned whether it would be possible, but I’ve continued to train and work tirelessly with the team to make sure we can make this a reality and truly have an impact on people’s lives. 

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“I just want to thank everyone who has made this possible, without you this challenge would not be taking place.” 

Over the coming weeks, Ben will also launch a Virtual Schools Mission to help build confidence, resilience and support pupils' mental wellbeing after the uncertainty of the past year.  

The 401 Foundation founder Ben Smith has had to postpone The USA 2020 Challenge. Picture: MARK A

The 401 Foundation founder Ben Smith has had to postpone The USA 2020 Challenge. Picture: MARK ATHERTON - Credit: Archant

Primary and secondary schools across the UK will be invited to register for the programme, which will see them take on the USA challenge virtually – completing the 14,000-mile route in groups between September 2021 and July 2022. 

To find out more about the USA Challenge, log on to https://www.the401challenge.co.uk/theusachallenge

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