Yorkshire fundraiser Ben Davis is mid-way through an extraordinary mission which will see him run right around the perimeter of Yorkshire to raise money for charity.
The #RunningYorkshire project will see Ben run over 450 miles and take in 41,000ft of elevation which is more that Mount Everest. What’s more, he’s doing it with all his camping equipment on his back! He set off on Yorkshire Day (Wednesday 1st August) from Scarborough and his run has taken in the Cleveland Way, Yorkshire Dales, Humber Bridge and Spurn Point, before returning to Scarborough in just 18 days – which is the equivalent of a marathon a day. Ben has already run eight marathons in the last two years but this is by far the biggest challenge the Harrogate man has ever attempted.
He is aiming to raise £15,000 for the charity Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) which is dedicated to preventing male suicide. Ben decided to take on the #RunningYorkshire challenge after suffering a period of poor mental health.
He said: “I very quickly went from feeling a bit down to locking myself away for days on end. I would break down and cry without warning. It severely affected me. “I desperately tried to hide how I was feeling and thought it was something I had to face on my own – I was embarrassed. Fortunately, I was surrounded by loving friends and family, and within a few months, I managed to get my life back on track. I also met an incredible woman – my best pal Rach.
“I can honestly say that I have never been happier. Having said that, it scares me how ill I became so quickly. If I hadn’t had my support network around me, I don’t know where I would have ended up.
“I want to do my bit to acknowledge that blip in my life and let people know they are not alone. I’m really hoping that it will encourage more men to talk about their mental health with friends and family. Let’s all look out for each other.” Director and Trustee of CALM, Marcus Chapman, said: “It’s people like Ben that are changing the face and stigma of mental health forever. Through honesty and bravery with his own personal struggles, he is helping men all over the UK open up about their own mental health and seek help through charities like CALM.
“Ben’s monumental challenge to run around Yorkshire will without doubt save lives and help CALM in its fight to reduce male suicide – at 84 men a week, still the single biggest killer of young men in the UK.”
To support Ben throughout his journey, Up & Running, the Yorkshire-based running specialist, has supplied various pieces of kit to make his adventure as comfortable as possible, from his Saucony Hurricane shoes and Groundhog socks to the Terra Nova tent and Montane pack and apparel. He will also be carrying a GPS tracker so that supporters can follow his every move.
Up & Running will be encouraging members of its Social Run Groups to join Ben, as he passes near their home towns, and local schools will also be invited to get involved. General Manager of Up & Running, Jonathan Midwood, said: “We are pleased and in fact humbled to be part of Ben’s epic journey. Having personally been in the same place as Ben, and knowing others who have had similar experiences, we just couldn’t wait to support him.
“Also, knowing that he would be using running to spread an important message, that he would be engaging with the beautiful Yorkshire countryside and that he would be raising awareness of this hidden societal issue, we were compelled to support him. Go Ben, we’re behind you all the way!”
Ben’s many supporters also include destination management organisation Welcome to Yorkshire. Chief Executive, Sir Gary Verity DL, said: “Ben is someone that personifies true Yorkshire grit and determination. Running one marathon is difficult enough, let alone 18 in a row over some of our county’s most testing terrain!
“He’s raising money for a hugely worthwhile cause and we wish him the very best of luck on this bold and immensely tough challenge.”
Ben concluded: “As well as the all-important fundraising, it’s a great way to celebrate our fantastic county, and hopefully it’ll encourage a few more people to get out there for a run. “I’m truly overwhelmed by the incredible support that I’ve had from so many people and I want to say a huge thank you to each and every one of them.”
You can follow Ben’s progress at www.runningyorkshire.com and www.facebook.com/runningyorkshire Donations can be made at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/runningyorkshire