A 34 year old business man from Gloucester is taking on a gruelling ultra running challenge down the spine of Wales, which will see him run the twice the height of Everest in just six days.
The Montane Dragon’s Back Race is the world’s toughest mountain race and Ben Colabella from Cheltenham, who is a Director of Gloucester family run business Fast Fix, hopes to conquer it in the support of three local charities – Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice, Samaritans Cheltenham and Winston’s Wish.
(Ed’s note: Oh my goodness I’ve just watched the drone footage of this race on the Montane Dragon’s website. Ben must be bonkers to put himself through this….good luck to you Ben!)
Starting from Conway Castle and finishing at Cardiff Castle the six day multi-stage ultra running challenge will see Ben cover the length of more than one and a half full marathons every day over an elevation of 17,400m, taking in some of the most treacherous terrain and spectacular sights of the Welsh mountains.
Ben sets off on his challenge on Monday. He said, “A lot of people have said I am a little bit bonkers to be doing this and at the moment I am wondering whether I have bitten more off than I can chew as usual. But I really wanted to set a goal for this year after the tough time we have had with the pandemic. I wanted to challenge myself with a goal which would be good for my mental health and help keep me fit and healthy.”
“When signing up I didn’t realise quite how much the training would take over my life. It has been a real push to get to where I am now but I have really enjoyed the journey so far.”
Ben started training last September to prepare for the gruelling challenge. “I have been running up hills relentlessly for six days a week off road covering between 60 and 90 miles and I have been doing lots of weight training and gym sessions,” shared Ben.
“The training has been extremely hard and no matter what the Great British bipolar weather has thrown at me, I’ve got out there. It’s certainly taken its toll on me with increasing calorie requirements, relentless niggles, weekly osteo appointments and some very flat and tired days.
“I would not be where I am now without the support of my partner, El and my family and friends. I don’t know how they have put up with me over the past year – whether I’m hungry or tired or our weekends have been taken over by me going out for eight hours running. All my family and friends have been really supportive. It’s great to have such a good network around you.”
Ben hopes to raise £3,000 for his chosen local charities. “I struggled to pick one charity, as they are all very deserving. That’s why I’ve picked three. They are all local to us and they all need our support due to reduced funding and increased strain because of the pandemic. They all have incredible missions and they all mean something to me.
“Almost everyone you come into contact with has had someone receive care from Sue Ryder and that has been the case for me and my family and friends, so it felt right to support our local Sue Ryder hospice.
“My mum volunteers at the Samaritans Cheltenham Branch so I wanted to raise funds for them too and Winston’s Wish do some amazing support looking after bereaved children. They are all so deserving of our support”
Ben is looking forward to his challenge with a mixture of excitement and nerves. “I hope I can tame the dragon. It’s really nerve wracking as it is such as big race and things can go wrong. I hope I reach the finish line as you get a real buzz when you push yourself.”
“My thoughts are if I put myself through enough pain people will donate and if we can raise funds to help people at a time they really need it then I am all for it.”
“If there’s one thing we’ve all learnt over this frankly rubbish time this past year. It’s to treasure every single moment, hug the ones close to us, say hello to a strangers, ask ‘how are you?’ and mean it and be kind.”
So far, Ben has raised £1,000 for his chosen charities. You can help him reach his target by visiting his Virgin Money Giving Page in support of Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice, Samaritans Cheltenham and Winston’s Wish.