Ben takes tour of town sporting venues on latest leg of gruelling fund-raising February running challenge

Fund-raising runner Ben Hope undertook a 15-mile long tour of Northampton's main sporting venues on the latest leg of his 406-mile February Calendar Challenge on Monday.

Monday, 15th February 2021, 4:26 pm
Ben Hope began his 15-mile running challenge at the County Ground on Monday morning

Sports fan Hope, who hails from Silverstone, is raising money for mental health charity Young Minds, by adding a mile a day to his route every day in February, ending with a 28-mile run on the final day of the month.

He started his epic challenge by running a mile on February 1, two miles a day later, three miles on February 3, and so on.

Monday saw him complete his 15-mile course, which took in the home of Northamptonshire County Cricket Club, Northampton Saints Rugby Club and Northampton Town Football Club.

A keen Steelbacks fan, Hope started off at the County Ground, home of Northants, and after a few laps of the outfield, when he was joined by some of the players, he headed off to Franklin's Gardens.

After a few laps of the home of the Saints, Hope made his way to the PTS Academy Stadium where he was welcomed by first team players Steve Arnold and Alan Sheehan, before heading off on a few laps of the pitch.

Hope then took a long route back to Wantage Road to finish off the 15-mile course, before getting home to rest ahead of his 16-mile run on Tuesday.

He may now be more than halfway through the challenge in terms of days - but he still has 286 miles of the 406 to negotiate!

Ben Hope dropped in at the Cobblers for a couple of laps of the PTS Academy Stadium pitch

It is certainly a gruelling challenge that Hope has set himself, with things getting harder and harder every day, and the whole thing ending with him having to run three marathons (and a bit more!) in the final three days!!

Hope outlines exactly why he has set himself such a testing month of running on his Go Fund Me page ( https://gofund.me/5eed0295 ), outlining how tough he believes the Covid-19 pandemic has been on the nation's youngsters.

"It all means I will run a total of 406 miles in the 28 days, including a final seven days of 175 miles and finishing with more than three marathons in the last three days," said Hope.

"The past year has been really difficult for everyone, especially young people. So the challenge I’ve set myself is a great opportunity to raise some money for the mental health charity Young Minds.

Ben Hope is handed his Steelbacks shirt by Charlie Thurston

"Young Minds are leading the movement to make sure every young person gets the mental health support they need, when they need it, no matter what. It takes courage to ask for help.

But for many young people who do, the support they need just isn’t there.

"In the UK today, an estimated five children in every classroom have a mental health problem.

"A quarter of 17-year-old girls have self-harmed in the last year, while suicide remains the single biggest killer of boys and young men.

"But things can get better. Young Minds provides young people with tools to look after their mental health. They empower adults to be the best support they can be to the young people in their lives.

"And they give young people the space and confidence to get their voices heard and change the world we live in."

And he added: "It won’t be easy. The mileage makes me nervous and I have never run anywhere near as much or as far in a month before.

"The sheer length of the challenge is psychologically daunting too, and in many ways is tougher than the physical aspect of the challenge.

"In my experience the importance of daily exercise is more relevant now than ever before, with lockdowns and school closures leaving young people feeling anxious and isolated.

"Sport is proven to help prevent depression and anxiety, as well as improve general mental well-being. Despite all that, exercise has never felt so inaccessible."

Hope's initial target was to raise £1,000, but he has already surpassed that amount with the tally currently standing at £3,620.

With his challenge only halfway through, there is plenty of scope for that total to be boosted even further!

Hope's progress can be followed on instagram at @_benhope and @plusonemile and he added: "Any words of encouragement if you see me out running or sponsorship you are able to give will be massively appreciated!"

You can donate any amount at Hope's Go Fund Me page at https://gofund.me/5eed0295