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24 August 2014, 06:58
Saints legend Francis Benali is starting his attempt to run to all 20 Premier League stadiums.
Fran, 45, will be averaging between 40 and 50 miles a day to raise hundreds of thousands of pounds for Cancer Research UK - a charity very close to his heart.
'Benali's Big Run' starts today (Sunday 24 August) at St James Park, home of Newcastle United and finishes at St Mary's - home of the Saints on Saturday 16 September - the club he spent over 20 years of his career.
Fran is hoping to capture the hearts and minds of the British public just as Eddie Izzard and Davina McCall have done with similar running challenges.
Running to every Premier League stadium in the country consecutively has never been done before and having consulted fitness experts Fran has 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.
"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.
"As well as a massive thanks to the sponsors 4Com, I have a brilliant support team who are preparing everything professionally to give 'Benali's Big Run' every chance of success. They all believe in me. Now it's my job to run it.
"Cancer Research UK is a fantastic charity and has made a difference to many thousands of families in the UK. I can't thank them enough for their support as well as my sponsors 4Com who have also made this happen. I want to raise as much money as possible - it would be great to hit £1 million, but every pound counts. Thank you to everyone who has sponsored me so far."
Friend, ex Saint legend and Sky Sports pundit Matthew Le Tissier is giving Fran 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 on some of the route to support him - although there's no way my knees could take 50 miles in one day - never alone for 21 days in a row!"
Diane Platt, Cancer Research UK Regional Fundraising Manager, said:
"Our work is only possible through our amazing supporters, and Franny, his family and team are so determined to raise as much as possible to fund essential research and treatment of all types of cancer.
"We can't thank everyone on team Benali's Big Run enough for their hard work; they are an inspiration, after pulling together a team, sponsors and getting Franny training in just four weeks. Their dedication to make this challenge happen will help us to beat cancer sooner.
"Support like this is essential to our work at Cancer Research UK, our vision is to bring forward the day when all cancers are cured. Our ambition is to accelerate progress and see three-quarters of people surviving the disease within the next 20 years and its individuals like Franny and the team behind him who will help in achieving this."
As well as a number of ex professional players, Fran will also be joined by his daughter Kenzie and son Luke throughout the three week challenge.
Find out more at benalisbigrun.com.