A runner will complete his 100th marathon in 100 days in Northampton this morning to highlight the type of bullying that led him to two suicide attempts.
Ben Smith, aged 33, will continue his amazing charity crusade in Brixworth today, aiming to raise £250,000 for the charities Kidscape and Stonewall.
He was bullied at boarding school, and university and the subsequent depression led to him trying to take his life on two occasions.
However, after coming out as gay two years ago, he decided to take charge of his life, and one of the ways was to start running.
After accumulating two marathon events and discovering he had an unrealised talent, he came up with the 401 Challenge - running 401 marathons in as many days - for anti-bullying charities.
He said: “The 401 Challenge isn’t about being a victim, the challenge is about showing people that no matter what you go through growing up there can always be a positive outcome if you want there to be.”
Ben, who is from Bristol, was sent to boarding school in the UK when his dad was posted to Germany with the Army.
He said the change of environment “a shock to the system” and left him an easy target for bullies.
Becoming more and more reclusive and unsure of himself over the next eight years, he tried to commit suicide after suffering a nervous breakdown.
Then, while at university, he suffered from depression and tried to take his own life again.
Ben said: “I just didn’t want to be alive anymore and didn’t see any way of getting myself out of the situation I found myself in. I felt alone and unable to talk to anyone about it, my studies suffered and on leaving full-time education I didn’t really have a clear understanding of who I was and what I wanted to achieve in life.”
The turning point came aged 31 when he came out as gay.
Ben said: “It suddenly felt like my life made sense, no longer did I pretend to be happy or act in a certain way to successfully fool people.
“The bullying I had faced at school had stripped me of my ability to accept who I was but this was no more.”
Now the 401 challenge is the latest point on Ben’s road to happiness.
Ben said: ”My confidence has grown massively, with 30 marathons under my belt in just two years, a wealth of knowledge gained from working with some of the best health professionals around I feel as ready as I will ever be to take on board this huge rewarding challenge.”
To sponsor Ben click here.