This man stood up to homophobic bullies by running 401 marathons in 401 days
In news that isn’t an ever-worsening nightmare, a British man decided to run 401 marathons in 401 days to combat homophobic bullying, which is so next level it’s a little mind-blowing.
Oh, and just in case you’re too tired to do the math, yes, that is totally 1 marathon every day for over a freaking year!!! I pat myself on the back if I’m able to get myself to the gym for an hour every day most days out of the week, but running a marathon every single day, or even every week, is like, well, it’s a lot more exercise. I know so much about marathons, guys. So much.
Anyway, Ben Smith, the 34-year-old wizard who ran all these marathons, says he did it because he wanted to do something to help combat the kind of bullying he was subjected to while he was in school, which sadly led to him attempting to end his life. Smith used the marathons to raise money for Stonewall and Kidscape (both British charities that help LGBT youth and anti-bullying efforts, respectively), and was later honored with the Helen Rollason Award at this year’s BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards.
In a moving video shared by BBC Sport’s Twitter page, Mr. Smith details the horrific bullying he received as a child, which began as verbal bullying and quickly turned into physical abuse. Smith says that once the bullying started to be directly related to his sexuality he became so distraught that he tried to take his own life. He explains:
“I slipped into a state of depression, I didn’t even know who I was, and that’s what made me sit up and think ‘I can’t do this anymore and my life needs to change’.”
Fortunately, Smith made it out alive and was able to become the amazing human he is today. Oh and here’s more fun math for you: In his efforts to raise money to combat that kind of violence and its harmful effects, Smith ultimately ran a total of 10,500 miles, and even ended up visiting 101 schools during that time to speak about his experiences with bullying.
During his BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards speech, Smith said that running eventually went on to become his “sanctuary” and also “gave me back my confidence, it gave me back my self-esteem – but most importantly I’m not afraid anymore.”
Hats off, Mr. Smith. You are a breath of fresh air/non-crappy news.