Former defender to visit every Premier League and Sky Bet Championship club in just two weeks
Francis Benali is hitting the road again for another “impossible challenge” in aid of Cancer Research UK. The former Southampton FC defender has already raised £265,000 for the charity with his first phenomenal feat – running from Newcastle to Southampton via ever Premier League club in just three weeks! It meant running around 50 miles a day to complete the 1,000-mile trek – and now Franny is taking on an even bigger challenge.
The TV pundit and motivational speaker is aiming to run and cycle to every Premier League and Championship club – in just two weeks! It will mean running a marathon AND cycling at least 75 miles every day for a fortnight.
Benali said: “People said I was mad to do the first challenge – and after just a few hours I realised they were right! It was far tougher than I ever imagined, not just physically but mentally and emotionally. There were many times when I broke down and thought I could not complete it.
“But what kept me going was the reason for doing it. My pain and suffering were nothing compared to what cancer victims and their families go through. So now I am going to attempt something even more demanding and gruelling. I honestly don’t know if it will be possible but that’s what makes it such a unique challenge.”
Benali will set off from Bournemouth’s Vitality Stadium on Sunday 2 October and will head towards South Wales and then the North-West and North-East before trekking back to the south coast via the Midlands, East Anglia and London. The 47-year-old aims to finish the two-week endurance feat at St Mary’s Stadium Southampton on 16 October in time for Saints’ home game against Burnley at 4pm. His gruelling route brings him to Brentford on 14 October when he will be greeted at Griffin Park by club staff, cancer survivors and other well-wishers.
Benali added: “The reception last time was incredible and hopefully people will be just as generous this time around. It really is a wonderful cause. I am hoping to top the previous figure with the money raised funding specific Cancer Research UK Immunotherapy Research across the country.”
Dr Áine McCarthy, Senior Science Information Officer at Cancer Research UK, said: “Immunotherapy drugs are showing great promise for a lot of different types of cancer, but more research is needed to figure out which cancers these drugs can be used to treat, and which patients are most likely to benefit from them. The money that Franny’s raising for Cancer Research UK’s work into immunotherapy, including work being done in Southampton, will help us answer these questions sooner and ultimately, help more people survive the disease.”