Ex-Southampton footballer Francis Benali is taking on his most daunting challenge to date, in a bit to raise £1m for Cancer Research UK.
The dad-of-two, who has just turned 50, will swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and then run a 26.2 marathon EVERY DAY for seven consecutive days, for his third fundraiser for the charity.
He’s thought to be the oldest man in the UK to take on such a gruelling challenge which will see him once again, journey across England with the aim of raising vital funds for research.
It’s by far his most physically-demanding challenge yet but one he is determined he can complete – despite the fact he’s had to have swimming lessons from a professional coach and has never undertaken a triathlon before.
Benali said: “This is my third physical challenge for CRUK and it felt right to add a third discipline into the mix, but swimming is unbelievably tougher than I ever anticipated.
“The extent of my swimming since I was a youngster, when I got some Frosties swimming badges, has been dipping into the pool on holiday to cool off and nothing more!
“I have really clear memories of being taught to swim in the old central baths in Southampton but it was never something I enjoyed. I had a very strict teacher who used to walk up and down the side of the pool with a stick. I had problems keeping my legs and bottom up and floating.”
Benali’s IronFran Challenge will begin on Sunday April 29th and will see the former Saints defender travel across England by running and cycling after every day’s swim. He will call at cities including Manchester and London before returning home to Southampton where he will take part in the city’s marathon on Sunday May 5th.
He added: “Ever since the last challenge finished, my mind has been focussed on the fact that we are still short of the £1m I promised to raise for Cancer Research UK and what I should do next to make sure we get there.”
He dreamt up IronFran while on holiday with his wife Karen, in November last year and began training at the start of the year.
Franny said: “It just seemed the perfect fit. My first challenge, Benali’s Big Run, was over three weeks and involved just one discipline which was running to every Premier League club, up to 50 miles a day.
“Benali’s Big Race was over two weeks and involved running a marathon each morning and cycling at least 75 miles each day between Premier League and Championship clubs.
“So it was right that this third and final challenge would be one week and three disciplines so we added the swimming.”
To track Franny’s progress, visit WEBSITE HERE. To donate £5 or £10, text FRAN5 or FRAN10 to 70200.