Southampton legend takes on Premier League stadium challenge for charity

Southampton legend Francis Benali aims to raise £1m for Cancer Research UK in 1,000 mile Premier League stadium challenge

The Sport Review staff
By The Sport Review staff
'Running Saint' Francis Benali and Toon legend Alan Shearer Photo: Lee Collier Photography

Southampton legend Francis Benali is tackling his toughest challenge yet – running nearly 1,000 miles in three weeks to raise £1million for Cancer Research UK.

The 45-year-old is running to all 20 Premier League stadiums – averaging between 40 and 50 miles a day – raising hundreds of thousands of pounds for Cancer Research UK – a charity very close to his heart.

I’m hoping to join Fran along the route to support him – although there’s no way my knees could take 50 miles in one day – let alone for 21 days in a row!

Matt Le Tissier

‘Benali’s Big Run’, sponsored by telecommunications company 4Com, started on 24 August at St James’ Park, home of Newcastle United and finishes at St Mary’s – home of the Saints on Saturday 13 September – the club where he spent over 20 years of his career.

Running to every Premier League stadium in the country consecutively has never been done before and having consulted fitness experts, Benali was been told it can’t be done.

Not to be put off, the ‘Running Saint’ is all the more determined to prove the experts wrong.

Benali said: “I’ve been told that ‘I’m mad’, ‘it can’t be done’, ‘don’t do it’ – but it’s made me even more determined to succeed. This challenge has been nagging away at the back of my head for years. It’s hugely demanding I agree, but that’s why I’m so motivated to do it.”

He added: “As well as a massive thanks to the sponsors 4Com, I have a brilliant support team who have prepared everything professionally to give the run every chance of success. They all believe in me.

“Cancer Research UK is a fantastic charity and has made a difference to thousands of people across the UK. I can’t thank them enough for their support in helping to make this happen. I want to raise as much money as possible – it would be great to hit £1 million but every pound helps in beating cancer sooner.”

Ex Saint legend, friend and Sky Sports pundit Matt Le Tissier is giving Benali his full backing.

“He’s obviously mad but knowing him well I’m sure he will accomplish his challenge. I’m hoping to join Fran along the route to support him – although there’s no way my knees could take 50 miles in one day – let alone for 21 days in a row!”

Benali has prepared for his big challenge by running up to 30 miles a day. As well as a number of ex professional players, Benali will also be joined by his daughter Kenzie and son Luke throughout the three week challenge.

If you would like to sponsor Franny and donate to Cancer Research UK, then please text ‘BIGR55’ and your donation (eg. £5) to 70070 – we want to beat cancer, let’s make it sooner.

Follow Franny’s progress on Facebook (Benalis Big Run), Twitter (@Benalisbigrun) and online at www.benalisbigrun.co.uk

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