There were 131 finishers overall in the four stage marathon at the 401 Festival of Running at Portishead, Bristol on 24-25 August. The event is inspired by the exploits of Portishead's award winning ultra-marathoner, charity fundraiser and blogger Ben Smith (pictured) of 401 marathons in 401 days fame.
The weekend was the hottest on record for late August but splitting the marathon into four sections over two days made it rather more accessible to mere mortals, who may not possess Ben Smith's incredible powers of endurance and mental toughness.
Matt King, an unattached M40 athlete with a 2:42:24 marathon best from Abingdon in 2014, was the sole finisher under three hours, with a cumulative 2:48:35. He was followed by Jason Scott (Portishead RC, 3:01:08) and Chris Miles (3:14:32).
Matt King started his 401 Festival quest with a win over 5K (18:58) and fourth place in the half marathon (1:31:42) on Saturday before bouncing back to win both the 6.1K (20:30) and 10K (37:25) on Sunday to complete his 42K challenge.
The women's top three 401 Festival finishers were Megan Judge (Black Pear Joggers, 3:32:39), Nikki Guiver (W50 Yeovil RRC, 3:39:14) and Karen Connell (W35 OS Runners, 3:43:24) – who all finished in the top dozen overall. Nikki and Karen both beat Megan in the 5K and 10K races but the Worcester-based runner was stronger in the half and faster in the 6.1K.
The 2016 winner of the BBC Sports Personality Helen Rollason Award, Ben Smith, was present throughout to support the runners in his home town and he will have been impressed by the commitment of the 131 finishers in the four-race 401 Festival Challenge on a weekend that was a test of endurance for the volunteers as much as the athletes.
Ben Smith's next personal challenge is to run a marathon in each of the 50 US states, cycling between locations, covering 18,500 miles in 104 days to try to raise £1million for The 401 Foundation and Youth Sport Trust. Ben starts his next mammoth enterprise in March 2020.
Image courtesy Ben Smith 401 Challenge