Liddall crosses the finish line following 100 days of running for Doddie
100 days. 229 hours. 1,042 miles.
At 1pm today, (Saturday 10 April), 17-year-old Ben Liddall of BATs Rugby crossed his virtual finish line outside the home of Scottish Rugby, BT Murrayfield, after running over 1,042 miles in 100 consecutive days, to raise money for the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation.
The target of 1,042 miles was inspired by the Six Nations competition, equalling the circular distance between the four home nations’ stadiums.
Ben’s final route, which started outside of his school at Trinity Academy in Edinburgh, covered just over six miles, venturing along to BATs home ground Raeburn Place, before ending outside BT Murrayfield.
It was here that Ben was met by surprise guest, Scotland U20’s Head Coach Sean Lineen, who presented Ben with a Scotland jersey, signed by this season’s squad on behalf of Scottish Rugby.
Lineen, the 29-times-capped Scotland 1990 Grand Slam centre said: “I’m really pleased to be here to present Ben with this signed jersey today. I’ve been following his challenge on social media, and I’m in awe of the grit and determination he has demonstrated throughout the last 100 days. It’s been an extraordinary effort.
“On behalf of everyone at Scottish Rugby, I’d like to once again say a huge well done to Ben, he deserves every bit of recognition for the miles he has covered and money he has raised. It’s a fantastic achievement.” Sean Lineen
Following the presentation, Ben spoke to Scottish Rugby to reflect on his challenge.
“Finishing my run at Murrayfield today was brilliant. And to be met by Sean Lineen with the signed shirt, I'm buzzing!
“The last 100 days have gone so quickly, surprisingly quickly to be honest. It’s been a lot of fun, but I am glad I’ve reached the end.”
Since January, Ben has been averaging roughly 10.5 miles per day to reach his target, however, with the idea of having some slightly easier days, he also took on a number of longer runs, including two back-to-back marathons in February.
“The two marathons were definitely the hardest part of the challenge,” said Ben.
“The conditions were horrific, I was running in a blizzard the whole time, and they took about six hours to finish. Completing the second marathon was the deepest I’ve ever had to dig in my life, it was properly tough. Making it home that night was the best feeling because I was freezing the entire time.
“The weather over the last 100 days has been so changeable, but it’s just been a case of putting my head down to be honest. I signed myself up for this challenge, so no complaints, I knew I just had to do it.”
Further to Ben’s credit, his mental resilience was matched by his physical resilience, completing the challenge without any signs of injury.
“I have been so lucky that I haven’t had a single injury or niggle. No blisters, no pulled muscles. I must be doing something right in my recovery! But it’s meant that I haven’t had to deal with the worry of not being able to finish the challenge, so that’s helped my mentality.”
Whilst Ben signed up for this challenge alone, he has never felt lonely having garnered a huge audience on social media, as well as being joined on stints by family, friends and members from the rugby community – company of which has included a six-mile run with former Scotland scrum-half and current Scotland Men’s Assistant Coach, Mike Blair earlier this week.
“One of the big highlights of this has been the amount of support I’ve had. Both in terms of donations and messages, but also with the people who have joined me on my runs. From my mates at the rugby club and school, to my coaches and other random people who have direct messaged me saying they’d like to join me.
“I guess that during covid as well, social contact has been so limited but being able to meet new people or hang out with friends on my daily run has been really enjoyable.”
Verging on raising £6,000 for My Name’5 Doddie Foundation, Ben admits that he didn’t expect the challenge to take off in the way that it has, after initially only setting a £50 donation target.
“When I was dreaming this challenge up in December, I did just think, “£50 would be great, I’ll get my mates to chuck in a fiver each”. We’ve nearly got £6,000 in the pot, I’m so chuffed with that!”
Running isn’t something that’s come naturally to Ben. In the summer of 2020, Ben suffered a concussion following an accident on his push-bike, and he took up running to aid his recovery. For Ben, discovering running has come as a blessing in disguise.
“I had never done any running until I had my head injury, and just from a covid point of view, I’m not sure what I would have done if I hadn’t found it. It’s definitely helped me in my recovery from concussion." Ben Liddall
“The night before my challenge, I wrote a list of things I wanted to achieve over the 100 days. The very first thing that I wrote down was that I wanted to inspire or motivate just one person, whether I knew them or not, to set themself a challenge. I’ve had so many messages from people saying that I have done that, it’s meant a lot to me.
“I think with the impact lockdown has had on our mental health, it’s been great to find this new passion and channel it into a way to motivate others to overcome their own challenges. Not everyone has got to go out running in blizzards, but it’s nice to know people have seen what I’ve done, and it’s spurred them on to get moving and do something positive physically and mentally."
So, now that the challenge is over – what’s next for Ben?
“First off, I’m definitely getting Chinese takeaway tonight. Chilling on the sofa, watching a film. You can’t beat it. And I’m definitely having a lie in on Sunday!
“I’ve got some new fitness goals in mind now this is over. I’m going to keep up the running, but I’m looking forward to getting back into my rugby. I’ve been back down to training with BATs Rugby and it’s been so good to see my mates there rather than out for a run!”
Doddie Weir won 61 caps for Scotland during a playing career in which he also represented the British and Irish Lions on their successful tour to South Africa in 1997, and won championships with his two club sides, Melrose and Newcastle Falcons.
In June 2017 Weir revealed he was suffering from Motor Neurone Disease. From the outset, he has been driven to help fellow sufferers and seek ways to further research into this, as yet, incurable disease.
In November 2017 Doddie and his Trustees launched the registered charity My Name’5 Doddie Foundation, when he delivered the match ball at the Scotland v NZ game at BT Murrayfield.
The Foundation’s aims are:
- To raise funds to aid research into the causes of Motor Neurone Disease and investigate potential cures.
- To make grants to individuals suffering from MND, to enable them to live as fulfilled a life as possible.