“Running has just become part of my everyday life”: Manea marathon man Ben Fox, the super-athlete who is always up for a challenge
- Credit: Archant
Ben Fox has only been taking running seriously since the start of last year, and yet he has achieved what perhaps more established runners have not.
"I still feel quite new to running," Ben said.
"I try to get as much information from running clubs and people that have been running for years. It's a thing I want to keep improving at and start to look at more things I can do abroad."
One of five siblings, there's always been something unique about Ben compared to the rest. "I've always wanted to do my own thing, so going travelling was my sort of thing and going places that no one has been before. Going into the unknown has always interested me.
"There's very little influence from within the family, but as it's become a popular thing, other family members are into it too."
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Quite new to the game and already, Ben has conquered the Great Wall of China and the Manchester Marathon this year. Not the easiest events to get motivated for, but not when you have a certain characteristic. "If I set my mind to something, I'm determined to get it done, regardless whether I want a bag of chips or run a marathon under three hours. I'm gonna do it and I'm gonna keep going until I get it," he insisted.
Stubbornness has played a key part in Ben's drive to succeed, which without it, chances of progression would be slim. "Everyone needs to have stubbornness to get things done and demand the best from themselves. If people find it hard halfway through and give up, I'd find that as a failure."
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Ben may be his biggest critic, and fortunately for him, it can be frustrating for those willing him on. "I always think I underachieve, which infuriates my girlfriend because she says 'why can't you just be pleased with what you've done for once?' - that's what drives me on."
Before races, the preparation may have been done, but there's no avoiding self-doubt. "They call it 'maranoia', so you get paranoid about every little thing, thinking everything's gonna go wrong. But you overcome it, and that's what gives you that extra buzz."
There have been many tough tests in Ben's running career so far, but none quite like the Ultra 70 race, where he not only ran from Carlisle to Newcastle within 26 hours, but made an all-important friend. "It was a different experience to marathons because you're going so much slower," he said.
"You become friends with pain eventually because every step starts to hurt, so that probably sticks in the mind."
Inspired by the likes of four-time London marathon winner Eliud Kipchoge, the feeling of bettering yourself comes to the fore. "I follow him on the socials and see what he's doing and it's just incredible. You compare your times against his and it's just like walking pace compared to him!"
Despite the potential unlikelihood of Ben reaching that standard, there is no barrier when it comes to meeting your own targets, no matter what your circumstances. "I'm a 31-year-old self-employed plasterer," Ben admitted.
"My skills are limited of how far I can go with running, but it's a personal challenge to see how good I can be. I don't think you can ever run out of challenges."
Setting up the Manea Gala 5k charity run along with friend Steve Tarsitano in memory of Aaron Mayes has been a cause close to Ben's heart. It's nice to put an event on for people to enjoy and encourage people who probably wouldn't take part in these sorts of events to get active."
Now in its fifth year, half of all proceeds will go to 'A Smile for a Child' which helps disabled children to take part in sports through the use of equipment, and the event has certainly made an impact. "People from the village volunteer and get involved, which is brilliant because we couldn't do it without them."
"As long as we do that, it's worth doing and as long as people keep coming and enjoying, that's what makes it worthwhile."
Plans for the near future have yet been finalised for Ben, but for a person who dismisses self-indulgence, helping others achieve their goals through running would be as satisfying as improving himself.
"I'll just keep doing what I do and if people decide to take it up because they've seen this guy in the paper that runs and think 'I'll have a go at that', they might unearth a talent."