Virtual fitness challenge rewards frontline workers and aids healthy lifestyle

PUBLISHED: 12:00 12 April 2020 | UPDATED: 14:21 16 April 2020

Ben Smith completed his 401 Challenge in 2016.Picture: Michael Lloyd

Ben Smith completed his 401 Challenge in 2016.Picture: Michael Lloyd

Michael Lloyd

A Portishead marathon runner has launched a virtual fitness challenge today (Sunday) to motivate people during coronavirus lockdown and to thank ‘the nation’s frontline heros’.

Ben Smith, aged 37, is encouraging people to take on the virtual 14,000-mile route from Maine to Hawaii, which follows The USA 2020 Challenge track Ben was due to complete for charity this year.

Ben’s challenge, which has been postponed until 2021, will see him run a marathon in each of the 50 US state capitals and cycle between each location in 104 days, with the aim of raising £1million for two charities.

People have 18 months to complete the virtual challenge, and the cost of signing-up will help fund Ben’s trip to the US and provide a personalised FrontlineHero gift pack to frontline workers to help them fight against coronavirus.

Ben Smith from the 401 Foundation.    
Picture: MARK ATHERTONBen Smith from the 401 Foundation. Picture: MARK ATHERTON

Ben said: “The impact the lockdown is having on normal life can present huge physical and mental challenges, so it’s really important that we look after ourselves and each other in these uncertain and difficult times.

“We’ve created this Virtual USA Mission to provide inspiration for people looking to maintain or improve their physical and mental fitness during lockdown and beyond and, at the same time, thank frontline workers to show them how much we appreciate everything they do for us.

“The cost of registering will not only help fund the USA Challenge, helping us to raise £1million for charities championing physical activity, The 401 Foundation and Youth Sport Trust, but through our collaboration with small businesses like TrueStart Coffee in Bristol, it will provide these FrontlineHero gift packs.”

People can choose to take part in more than 120 activities from running, walking, gardening, ironing and even changing a bed.

Those who register can nominate someone to receive a FrontlineHero gift pack, from NHS and supermarket workers, teachers, volunteers or people who are ‘going over and above to help others during the crisis’.

Ben continued “I would like to take this opportunity to thank the men and women who continue to be the nation’s heroes, working tirelessly in hospitals, health care, supermarkets, schools and elsewhere on the frontline.”

People can sign-up to the challenge at

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