It all started after he gained a place in the London Marathon ballot. Ben Kasper was keen to run the iconic race for a worthy cause but instead of putting all of his eggs into one basket, the idea soon developed to take on multiple races to bolster his fundraising efforts.
With his place safely secured in the London Marathon, Ben had entered three more marathons by the end of the day. Less than six months into the calendar year, the 28-year-old has already competed two 5km races, eleven 10km races, six half marathons, eight marathons and three ultra-marathons - and counting. “Suggest an event and I will try to do it,” said Ben in the week leading up to the Edinburgh Marathon Festival on 28-29 May where he will contest his ninth marathon of 2016.
Ben is raising money for DEBRA, a national charity which supports those affected by debilitating skin conditions such as Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB). EB refers to a group of skin conditions which causes blistering and tearing of the skin at the slightest touch. Ben was quick to support this cause after his mother told him about a young girl in her class who suffers from the condition which currently lacks a known cause.
“As a unique selling point, I thought I should be in constant pain to empathise,” said Ben, who was initially going to run the London Marathon barefoot before settling on a year-long endurance challenge.
Ben works full-time in the week but still prepares assiduously for each race on his packed itinerary. A lot of his races fall on back-to-back weekends but Ben still runs two to four times during a typical training week. He also squeezes in gym and pool sessions each week, as well as tai chi and pilates classes.
Ben also reads widely on the mechanical, nutritional and psychological aspects of distance running and credits the sauna and steam room with aiding his recovery Ben has had to cut back on one of his vices for the duration of the challenge. “I have found that dairy hurts my recovery time so I stick to dairy once a week which is very difficult as I am addicted to cheese,” he said.
Ben embarked on his longest challenge to date last weekend - a 52-mile race over the Malvern Hills which he completed in 11:28. “This was a huge test as I would love to get much better at the longer distances,” he said. The race dynamics of the Edinburgh Marathon will be a world away from the solitude of the rolling hills in southern England but Ben thrives on the atmosphere of the big city events.
“I absolutely love the buzz of it: the participants, the crowds, the kids (and adults!) wanting for a high five. It is a feeling that can't be measured. It is the closest a person can get to being a sports personality or a celebrity,” he said. “The spectators are the drive that helps to give you a push in order to get a PB or to keep going even with all the pain.”
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