Francis Benali hits the road again for Cancer Research UKFrancis Benali is hitting the road again for another “impossible challenge” in aid of Cancer Research UK.
The former Southampton defender has already raised £265,000 for the charity with his first phenomenal feat – running from Newcastle to Southampton via ever Premier League club in just three weeks! It meant running around 50 miles a day to complete the 1,000-mile trek – and now Franny is taking on an even bigger challenge. Benali is aiming to run and cycle to every Premier League and Championship club – in just two weeks!
It will mean running a marathon AND cycling at least 75 miles every day for a fortnight. Benali said, “People said I was mad to do the first challenge – and after just a few hours I realised they were right! It was far tougher than I ever imagined, not just physically but mentally and emotionally.
"There were many times when I broke down and thought I could not complete it. But what kept me going was the reason for doing it. My pain and suffering were nothing compared to what cancer victims and their families go through. So now I am going to attempt something even more demanding and gruelling. I honestly don’t know if it will be possible but that’s what makes it such a unique challenge.”
Benali will set off from Bournemouth’s Vitality Stadium today and will head towards South Wales and then the north-west and north-east before trekking back to the south coast via the Midlands, East Anglia and London. The 47-year-old aims to finish the two-week endurance feat at St Mary’s on Sunday 16th October in time for the Saints’ home game against Burnley at 4pm. His gruelling route brings him to Madejski Stadium on Friday 14th October at 8.30pm – Reading will be his 41st club on the route back to Southampton!
The ex-Southampton man never visited Madejski Stadium as a player, but will have bad memories of Elm Park where he made one appearance – getting sent off in a FA Cup defeat to the Royals in March 1997. The former defender will be hoping for a better trip to the Berkshire club this time around!
Dr Áine McCarthy, Senior Science Information Officer at Cancer Research UK, said: “Immunotherapy drugs are showing great promise for a lot of different types of cancer, but more research is needed to figure out which cancers these drugs can be used to treat, and which patients are most likely to benefit from them. The money that Franny’s raising for Cancer Research UK’s work into immunotherapy, including work being done in Southampton, will help us answer these questions sooner and ultimately, help more people survive the disease.”
To donate simply text Fran to 70200 to give £5 or go to www.jellyfishlivewire.co.uk/benalis-big-run.