'Marathon man' to launch regional mental health hub in Hertfordshire

PUBLISHED: 08:59 02 February 2020

Ben Smith, who ran 401 marathons in 401 days, is launching the Mind regional hub for sports and physical activity in Hertfordshire. Picture: Hertfordshire Sports Partnership

Ben Smith, who ran 401 marathons in 401 days, is launching the Mind regional hub for sports and physical activity in Hertfordshire. Picture: Hertfordshire Sports Partnership

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A man who ran 401 marathons in 401 days is launching a sports hub in Hertfordshire for the mental health charity Mind.

Marathon runner Ben Smith will launch the Mind East Regional Hub for Sport and Physical Activity at the University of Hertfordshire on Wednesday, February 12.

Ben used running as a means of countering mental health issues throughout his life, including low self-esteem and issues surrounding bullying, sexuality and suicide.

The initiative is being delivered by Mind alongside the Herts Sports and Physical Activity Partnership (HSP). HSP director John O'Callaghan said: "There is empirical evidence showing how involvement in sport and physical activity can be a significant contributor to positive mental health.

"Involvement in sport and physical activity can help individuals develop friendships, improve confidence and self-esteem and build essential resilience needed to meet the challenges of daily life.

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"We are delighted to have been chosen by Mind to lead the Regional Hub for mental health, sport and physical activity for the East of England and we look forward to working with our sister organisations in Norfolk, Suffolk, Bedfordshire, Essex and Cambridgeshire in heightening awareness of mental health issues and the benefits from involvement in positive sport and physical activity programmes.

"We are also delighted that Ben Smith has agreed to join us for the launch and look forward to him sharing his remarkable feats.

"Ben is a glowing example of how physical activity can be used to enhance mental health and we are looking forward to him sharing his remarkable journey with us."

Ben plans to travel to the USA and complete a further 50 marathons in each of the states, cycling between marathon routes.

A webinar and Q&A session with Ben will also be held at the launch at 12.30pm, and is open to anyone with an interest in mental health and sports.

The launch webinar will also be used to outline HSP's proposals to heighten awareness of mental health issues, and to take a lead in ensuring they are considered as part of the delivery of sports and physical activity programmes.

For more information email Alicja Polak at a.polak@herts.ac.uk.

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