Coronavirus: Francis Benali inspired to take on treadmill marathon challenge

Francis Benali will run 26.2 miles on a treadmill in his garden to raise money for the fight against coronavirus.

Former Southampton defender Francis Benali   -  Getty Images

Francis Benali admitted he was inspired by Captain Tom Moore as he prepares to take on his next challenge to raise money in the fight against coronavirus.

On Sunday, former Southampton defender Benali will run a marathon on a treadmill stationed in his garden, with the funds raised going to Saints Foundation and NHS Charities Together.

The 51-year-old is no stranger to challenges having raised more than £1million for Cancer Research UK across three ultra-endurance tests, which included five Ironman triathlons across seven days last year.

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And it was Captain Moore - the 99-year-old war veteran who has raised over £17m after walking 100 laps of his garden - and others doing fundraising efforts while locked down in the United Kingdom who prompted Benali to take on another challenge.

"It's been inspired by the situation we're all in in this current lockdown and there's a lot of uncertainty and concern about the virus itself," Benali explained to Stats Perform.

"But the positive side of that is we've seen incredible fundraising efforts. We've seen Captain Tom Moore doing his laps, and the incredible response and donations that have come from that. Other people doing garden marathons.

"Being an ambassador of Southampton Football Club, I know only too well the incredible work Saints Foundation does locally within the community. I wanted to do a bit to help the fundraising side for some great causes, knowing the amazing work Saints Foundation do, but also NHS charities together and the work that they're doing to keep us all safe at this moment in time.

"There's a reason for wanting to take on a real challenge for me. I've not prepared for this so it could be a bit foolish in some ways but we'll have to wait and see what my body's like."

Benali's initial idea was to complete the 26.2 miles around his garden on the day when the London Marathon was due to be held.

However, upon trialling that idea and discovering it quickly left him feeling dizzy, he had to improvise.

"The most I've done is 20, 30 minutes on a treadmill ever - I normally do it in the winter when the weather's bad," Benali added.

"I've no idea how I'm going to stand up to 26.2 miles and the scenery not changing at all."

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