USA Challenge ends for ultra-athlete Ben Smith

After a fourth gruelling day for ultra athlete Ben Smith, the USA Challenge has come to an end. The devastating decision was made after hours of deliberation and emotional discussions with his team in the UK. With the severity of the searing heat and tropical rainstorms battering him, the most difficult decision was taken to stop Ben and just ‘get him home’.



Ben travelled to the USA on 12th June to prepare for his epic solo USA Challenge knowing he was carrying an injury. He was given great advice and support from sport injury professionals here in the UK and knew it could be managed. The reality was that it meant he would be losing valuable time by walking his running segment and the loss of rest time started to take its toll on his recovery after day two. Having already completed the equivalent miles of two back-to-back ironman events, and carrying his own kit, Ben was preparing for day three.


Helen, Operations Support at 401 HQ said ‘I have been speaking to Ben every day sometimes 4 or 5 times a day to keep a close eye on him. I could sense there was something wrong after he completed day three. He was exhausted. Ben decided to walk half marathons to save more time, but it still meant that he had to get up a 3.00am to start his day. It was his intention to cover any lost miles later in the Challenge when his leg had healed properly but to have lost the miles early on was not the best start for him and it started to play on his mind.

He got up on day four and powered through yet another 86 miles. We spoke and I just knew it was the time to have a very difficult conversation with him.’


Shaun, 401 Foundation Chairman said, ‘My priority is to keep Ben safe. The 401 Foundation is a mental health charity after all, and I could see he was not only struggling with the elements and the environment but being completely on his own was particularly hard for him. His steely determination to keep going is just incredible so to have to stop now will be devastating for him. He is probably the most selfless human I have ever met. All of his family, friends and supporters will know what an impact this will have on him.

The focus now is to get Ben home and help him fully recover. We would like to thank all our sponsors and supporters; all their wonderful comments and show of support has not gone unnoticed and although Ben is devastated, we will get him through this difficult time in recovery.’


Notes to editors

All images are ©The401Challenge

1 – Ben just before he set off for the USA


The 401 Challenge media contacts

For more information, please telephone Helen Lazenby, 401 Challenge Ltd, Operational Support on 07800 595 995, helen@the401challenge.co.uk


With Thanks to Our USA Challenge Sponsors

· Camelbak

· Flyte

· Rivelo

· SportPursuit

· Kenwood Kids Club

The 401 Challenge online

For more information on The 401 Challenge please visit HERE News releases and other media resources, including RSS feeds, downloadable photos and video, are available for you.

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