Man Runs 401 Marathons to Help Bullied LGBT Kids

Ben Smith ran 10,500 miles in 401 days while raising $315,000
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 6, 2016 3:40 PM CDT
Man Runs 401 Marathons to Help Bullied LGBT Kids
Ben Smith completes his 401st marathon in 401 days. He completed the historic feat to raise awareness about bullying and raise money for kids targeted because of their sexuality.   (Facebook)

Ben Smith overcame years of bullying, depression, and two suicide attempts, so running 401 marathons in 401 days was no sweat. “I’ve sat on my bed and tried to take my life," Smith tells BuzzFeed. "I got through that, so I feel like nothing can stop me." Smith started The 401 Challenge on Sept. 1, 2015; he finished his 401st marathon, completing a feat no one had ever done, on Wednesday. Along the way he spoke to more than 100 schools about bullying, sexuality, and mental health while raising more than $315,000 for charities who help kids bullied because of their sexuality. The 33-year-old Smith tells the Guardian he wants to "make sure that what happened to me doesn’t happen to anyone else.”

Smith took up running at 29 after suffering a ministroke—he was 230 pounds overweight, had unhealthy habits, and "couldn't even run for a bus"—and found it helped his mental health, as well. Smith came out as gay at 30 after 20 years in the closet. “I knew I was gay,” Smith tells BuzzFeed. "But because I’d gone through school being bullied about it, I felt it was wrong." Running 401 marathons—more than 10,500 miles—in 401 days is no easy thing. Smith lost more than 80 pounds, got tendonitis, and lost feeling in his foot. He broke his back on day 284, requiring him to take 10 days off to rehab his fractured vertebrae. He made it up by running super-marathons when he came back. More than 300 people joined Smith for his final marathon Wednesday, and hundreds more greeted him at the finish line, the BBC reports. (More uplifting news stories.)

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