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Ex-Premiership football star riding 120km a day for charity

Southampton legend Francis Benali back in the saddle, visiting 44 club grounds

Former Southampton footballer Francis Benali plans to run a marathon and ride a bike more than 120 kilometres every day for the next fortnight to raise money for the charity Cancer Research UK.

The 47-year-old, who made more than 300 appearances for the South Coast club, scoring one goal, set off on his journey yesterday morning from AFC Bournemouth’s Vitality Stadium.

He will finish his fundraising trip at the St Mary's stadium of Southampton FC, Benali's home town club where he spent almost all his career.

He set off from Bournemouth yesterday on the first leg of the challenge to raise money for Cancer Research UK.

Benali’s route will take him into south Wales to tick off Cardiff City and Swansea City, then through the Midlands to the north west of England before heading down the east coast and Yorkshire then through East Anglia and London to the finish in Hampshire.

He admitted that he felt "nervous and apprehensive” at the prospect of running and cycling 1,600 kilometres, but insisted, “I'm ready.”

“It'll be good to get the first day out of the way and hopefully the legs won't be too tired at the end

"I am a bit nervous because I know the pain that lies ahead. I just want to get it completed and make it a success.

"The disease has not gone away and the charity still need funds as desperately as ever so that will be my motivation through the pain of this challenge."

The former defender undertook a similar challenge two years ago when he ran between all 20 Premier League stadiums within three weeks and raised more than a quarter of a million pounds for Cancer Research UK, his efforts winning him the inaugural Spirit of the Game award that year.


Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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atlaz | 7 years ago

14 marathons, each followed by 120km in the saddle over the next two weeks. I agree, massively underselling the difficulty. 

1961BikiE | 7 years ago
1 like

Legend? I remember when folk like Beowulf, Thor & Hercules were legends.

tritecommentbot | 7 years ago
1 like

This just went from piss easy to serious business.

wycombewheeler | 7 years ago

Headline - ex pro sportsman rides 120km a day - hardly inspiring stuff, not weven 100 miles.Story reveals he is also running a marathon a day - thats serious business.

Is this the first time ever the headline has undersold the story?

waldner71 | 7 years ago

What a guy! To do this age 47 shows a very high level of fitness. Kudos

Saint Mikie 41 | 7 years ago

All the best to our Franny legend and total nice guy 

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