HE only started running three years ago, but soon Ben Smith will complete his 194th marathon in as many days as he races his way through the Lothians.
Mr Smith is almost halfway through a gruelling and unprecedented challenge which will see him run a total of 401 consecutive marathons.
Today he will set off on his first of two marathons in Dalkeith, followed by two in Edinburgh on Monday and Tuesday.
Mr Smith began The 401 Challenge in September as part of a campaign to raise awareness of the issues of bullying and to raise £250,000 for two charities dedicated to tackling bullying – Stonewall and Kidscape.
Being bullied as a child resulted in Mr Smith making two attempts to take his own life, so the issue is close to his heart. Along the way, as well as raising awareness, he hopes to encourage as many people as possible to join him for a run – whether it be for one mile or 26 – and to inspire people to push their own limits.
Speaking from his campervan – where he sleeps most nights – on the side of the A1 en route up to Scotland, Mr Smith said he was excited to be crossing the Border.
He said: “I did the Edinburgh Marathon in 2014 and loved it. It would be nice to run round more of the city and I’m going to get the opportunity to do that with the running clubs in Edinburgh joining me.
“I’m looking forward to getting into Scotland as I used to live just north of Aberdeen when I was younger.”
The 401 Challenge will also see Mr Smith attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the most consecutive marathons run.
The 33-year-old admits the challenge has been tough – particularly on his body – but is committed to completing all 401 marathons.
“I have never woken up and thought ‘I don’t want to do this’, but I have woken up and thought ‘how am I going to do this?’ because my whole body aches. But I’m still convinced I’m going to complete it. I have to think like that because any form of negativity can eat away at you.”
Mr Smith will run a total of 81 marathons in Scotland, with the first one in Kelso yesterday. His halfway point will come as he runs his 201st marathon in Glasgow on March 19.
• Follow his progress at www.the401challenge.co.uk.