Ben Rogers is close to covering 10,000 miles in 12 months as he takes part in this weekend’s race. Andrew Tong finds out why…
ON YOUR marks… The countdown has started for the Tunbridge Wells Half Marathon, which starts at 9am on Sunday [February 19].
More than 1,750 runners from all over the country and overseas have put their names down for the 13.1-mile race, which is organised annually by the -Tunbridge Wells Harriers running club.
The official starter for this year’s race is Ben Rogers, aka the ‘365 Marathon Man’, who has pledged to run the equivalent of a full marathon every day to raise money for charity.
His first outing was the London Marathon in April last year, and he will end his epic journey with the same race on April 23.
The Tunbridge Wells Half Marathon will be his 303rd race.
Ben, from East Malling, undertook the 9,563-mile endurance challenge following the death of his stepfather, Doug Chaffer, from cancer in November 2015.
The 46-year-old father of two is raising funds for two charities, Macmillan Cancer Support and Pilgrims Hospice.
Ben gets up at 3am to complete a
full marathon before going to work
But why such an extreme challenge? “I wanted to do something to give back to the Pilgrims Hospice as they had been so good at looking after my family during my stepfather’s illness,” Ben explained.
“I thought I would run a marathon, but then I realised that anyone can do that, so then thought I’d try to do something longer-term to maximise the fundraising. ”
It’s a remarkable feat for a man who had done hardly any exercise for a decade. “I did the London and Paris marathons in 2003-04. Then I got into triathlons for a couple of years. But after that I did nothing, being too busy with work and the kids.”
Now, to fit in with his working life in the property market, Ben habitually gets up at 3am to complete the full 26.2-mile distance before going to work.
“It was hell for the first couple of weeks, but the body adapts,” he says.
Is it still difficult to stop the real world from intruding on his routine?
“Sometimes life is more important. I wanted the year of running to complement family life rather than be something that became a problem. It’s become ‘normal’ to me and my family.
“Most other people, including runners, think I am nuts…”
Even a plethora of aches, pains and injuries have failed to scupper his bid. “Most have been incredibly painful but nothing has stopped me running. And I did have two months at the end of 2016 when I was pain free!”
Ben’s big worry is that he has been running so much, he has not had enough time to raise money. After more than 290 marathons he only has £3,500, having aimed for £100,000.
“However, I realise these last couple of months are going to be the ‘ramp-up’ of donations as people realise that I may actually complete the challenge!
To make a donation to Ben’s cause, visit www.365MarathonMan.com
Running numbers and T-shirts can be collected from tomorrow [February 16] at Tunbridge Wells Fitness & Wellbeing Gym, Knights Way [TN2 3UW] between 9am and 6pm. On race morning, numbers can be collected from race HQ at Tunbridge Wells Sports Centre, St John’s Road [TN4 9TX] from 7am-8.30am. Headphones are no longer allowed.
Tea, Coffee – and Free Beer!
Opening at 9am, the Velo House bike shop and café in St John’s Road will be offering a free glass of beer to runners. There will also be live music.
Spectators will be able to buy tea and coffee in Fordcombe village hall (on the route after the exhausting climb up Spring Hill) from 9am.
There will be disruption to roads on the course between 9am and 12 noon. See
www.twharriers.org.uk for full details.
Four days to go:
Planning for your post-race recovery
The last in our series of fitness tips for half marathon runners
IF YOU’RE one of the 1,750 runners due to take part in this Sunday’s Tunbridge Wells Half Marathon, your thoughts are on the start line and getting around the 13.1 miles.
But thinking beyond the finish line now will help your body recover as quickly as possible.
Your recovery starts before the race. “Warming up properly will help prevent injury so you can get back out training again as soon as possible,” says Jane Dew, a fitness instructor at Tunbridge Wells Fitness & Wellbeing Gym in Knights Park and a run leader for Runtogether.
Nuffield Health Tunbridge Wells personal trainers will lead a warm-up before the race inside Tunbridge Wells Sports Centre at 8.40am.
“You need to mobilise then warm up your muscles and joints,” says Jane. “Prior to exercise, joints are quite dry. Mobilising releases synovial fluid, which lubricates the joint. The warm-up is a bit of fun to help ease some of your pre-race nerves too.”
If you can’t make it in time, a good routine is ankle circles, leg swings, lunges, bum kicks and high knees.
“Alternatively, you could walk briskly to the start line from your car, perhaps jogging the last half,” suggests Jane.
Having warmed up, it’s important not to cool down again, so jog from race HQ to the start line and then keep moving while you wait for the starter’s gun.
When you have crossed the finish line, the TLC you give your body over the following hour is crucial.
The first thing is to make sure you stretch properly. “Nuffield Health personal trainers will be leading stretch sessions after the race, while our physiotherapists will be offering massages if you need something a bit more intense,” says Jane.
Post-race nutrition is also important. “You need carbs to replenish your energy and protein to facilitate muscle repair, ideally in a ratio of 3:1 or 4:1,” she says.
“A hot chocolate or chocolate milk has pretty much everything an expensive protein shake has, or a yoghurt with fruit is also ideal.”
As part of their sponsorship, Nuffield Health will be giving out fruit at the end of the race, as well as bottles of water. “Rehydration is key after the event,” adds Jane.
As the temperature is likely to be on the nippy side, you also need to put on layers to keep yourself warm, so make sure to pack some in your kit bag.
Your TLC should continue once you get home. “There are theories about having a shower and alternating between hot and cold water to help restore your muscles, and it works for some people,” says Jane.
“But personally, I think you can’t beat relaxing in a hot bath for half an hour with a chocolate milk.”