The Bristol runner who inspired thousands of people with his epic marathon challenge was honoured in front of the UK’s sporting elite at the BBC Sports Personality Awards on Sunday evening.
Ben Smith was awarded the Helen Rollason Award by Paula Radcliffe and Tom Daley. Named after the BBC presenter who died in 1999 at the age of 43, it rewards courage to overcome adversity, determination and inspiration
The 34-year-old from Portishead ran 401 marathons in 401 days, covering 10,500 miles with thousands of different runners to raise money for charities Kidscape and Stonewall, as well as spreading an anti-bullying message in more than 100 schools.
— BBC Radio Bristol (@bbcrb) October 6, 2016
Speaking on stage at the awards ceremony in Birmingham, a clearly emotional Smith said: “I want to say thank you to the tens of thousands of people who came out and supported this. My life was very very different four years ago…
“But I found running as my sanctuary, my way of being able to express myself, and be who I was, and not have to lie anymore.
“I didn’t have any confidence or self-esteem and I was scared about who I was. I got to meet some amazing people…
“Running gave me back my confidence, it gave me back my self-esteem, but most importantly, I’m not afraid anymore.”