Inspirational special guest opens Freckleton and Warton Running Club

Ben Smith at Holy Family Primary School
Ben Smith at Holy Family Primary School
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A new running club has been formed on the Fylde coast and could hardly have invited a more inspirational figure along for its launch night.

A new running club has been formed on the Fylde coast and could hardly have invited a more inspirational figure along for its launch night.

Freckleton and Warton Running Club recently opened its doors at the Lightning Club on Mill Lane, Warton.

Its special guest on the opening night was Ben Smith, who completed his astonishing 401 Challenge in 2015-16, when he ran 401 marathons in 401 days.

He raised over £400,000 to benefit the anti-bullying work of two charities, Kidscape and Stonewall.

Bristol-based Ben, whose partner hails from Kirkham, endured years of bullying as a boy which took a serious toll on his mental health.

He has told has story in an autobiography, 401, published by Bloomsbury last month, and he was happy to accept the invitation to speak at the opening of Freckleton and Warton Running Club.

Over 130 attended the launch and £460 was raised on the night, some of which will benefit Ben’s charity, the 401 Foundation, with the rest to finance coaching programmes at the new club.

Although the club will enter running events, its primary role is not to compete – it will serve to promote the benefits of running and how that can boost mental health.

Club captain Paul Fry said: “The reason we chose Ben was due to his ethos, not to be a record-breaker just to make people aware of what bullying can do to a person and how you can help others overcome their negative thoughts.

“We now have 56 members and the majority had never run before.

“The hardest part is getting people to have the confidence to just come down to the club.

“Once they are here, they spread the word.”

Ahead of the launch, Ben had visited St Bede’s Catholic High School in Lytham and Holy Family Primary in Warton to address the pupils and raise awareness of vital issues surrounding physical and mental health.