The story behind The 401 Challenge
In 2015 I set out on a mission that would change not only my life but the lives of thousands of other people around the world.
THE STORY SO FAR
Growing up I suffered at the hands of bullies, it had a huge and lasting impact on both my confidence and self esteem. At 13 I discovered I was gay but felt the need to cover this up through fear of being attacked. At 18 I tried to take my own life because I was tired of feeling the way I felt everyday.
Throughout my 20s I led a life dictated to me by others, successful on paper at 29 I suffered a TIA, temporarily losing my sight, hearing, feeling in my left arm and speech. This was a huge wakeup call and I had one of two choices, either carry on or make a change, I’ll let you guess which one I chose.
At 17.5 stone, a 40 a day smoker and heavy drinker, working 60 hours a week in a job I didn't really enjoy and covering up the fact I was gay, I decided to take the leap and come out. This set in motion a series of events that would lead me to become the happy and healthy person I am today.
Sport for me was something I always avoided, never feeling as though I was good enough. Like many others I put up barriers and made excuses, mostly because I had no confidence.
At 30 I was convinced by a friend to join a local running club and from day one I found something that gave me a focus, a way to express myself and a way to help me manage and deal with my mental wellbeing. It became a lifeline for me and helped me deal with many of the issues from my past.
In 2015, after finally coming to terms with my past,
"I vowed to take my experiences and turn them into something positive. The 401 Challenge was born, a feat of endurance like no one had ever really seen before."
Credit: BBC Sport and BBC Sports Personality
I set myself the goal of running 401 marathons in 401 days all around the UK, aiming to raise £250,000 for two anti bullying charities to help ensure young people didn’t have to go through what I went through as a child. I sold my house and all my belongings and on 1st September 2015 I set off from Bristol on a mission that would inspire thousands to deal with their own pasts and question what is actually possible.
I’m happy to say the project was a huge success and on 5th October 2016 I crossed the finishing line in Bristol having achieved something most people thought was not humanly possible.
Raising over £330,000 for both Kidscape and Stonewall, the challenge and I was awarded both the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Helen Rollason Award and National / Regional Pride of Britain Fundraiser of the Year Award in 2016.
The positive impact the project had had on people when it came to building their confidence and self esteem was the proudest achievement for me and in 2017 I set up The 401 Foundation, this became the legacy of The 401 Challenge and we are only just getting started.
As a registered charity, The 401 Foundation values the importance of mental wellbeing and aims to help people empower themselves and their local communities to build confidence, self esteem and promote positive mental health. We firmly believe everyone has the right to ‘find their happy’ and aim to provide support, empathy, and care so we can truly make a positive difference.
To help The 401 Foundation raise the necessary funds to ensure the sustainability of the charity for years to come, I have decided to undertake a second global fundraising challenge. From a physical perspective it's a bigger challenge, but with that brings a chance to make an even bigger impact.