A bold attempt to loop Yorkshire’s borders has seen Ben Davis pushed to his endurance limits over recent weeks.
The 31-year-old, from Harrogate, has tackled a lap of the region’s perimeter, running 490 miles and climbing the equivalent of Mount Everest for charity. But as his solo journey drew to a close on Saturday, he said, it was the support of an army of well-wishers that kept him going, over turbulent terrain and through dramatic weather.
“Quitting was not an option,” he said, having crossed the finish line in Scarborough after 18 days on the road. “I had to finish, though there were times I didn’t think I could.”
Mr Davis, after a battle with depression some years ago, has raised more than £20,000 for Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM), which is dedicated to preventing male suicide.
And his drive, to tackle the stigma of such a sensitive subject, seems to have hit a nerve with thousands of people who have backed him over the course of his adventure.
When he felt he couldn’t keep running, he said, there were cheers to buoy him on and, as he crossed the Humber Bridge, a crowd of 70 strangers who ran alongside him.
“It was a lot more difficult that I had anticipated, really challenging and intense,” he said.
“I’m used to running loops and laps and I had initially thought ‘why not a loop of Yorkshire?’ But I was on my own, getting stuck, and it was quite scary at times.”
One of the greatest challenges was as he ran from Tan Hill to Whernside, he said, from Yorkshire’s highest point to its highest mountain, with 14 peaks in between.
“I was running the moors, trying to follow the boundary fences, amid tough terrain,” he said. “As I set off, the hill fog came in and visibility dropped to just a few metres.
“I ended up running 32 miles that day - it was very intense. But that night, staying in a bunk barn with some friends that came along to join me, there was a real sense of achievement.
“There had been times that day when I thought I wasn’t going to be able to keep going,” he added. “It was amazing. I can’t believe I’ve actually done it and I’m totally elated.
“This has been such an adventure, way more than I ever anticipated. I’ve got so many memories from the run that will stay with me forever.”
Through the Running Yorkshire project, Mr Davis’ fundraising has reached more than £23,000 on JustGiving.
Sir Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said: “What Ben has achieved over the last three weeks is truly remarkable and the toughness and determination he has shown is an inspiration to us all.
“Ben is a credit to our great county and I wholeheartedly congratulate him for not only completing this heroic challenge, but for also raising a vast amount of money for a hugely worthwhile cause.”