MARATHON runner Ben Smith will be the official race starter of the 2016 Bournemouth Marathon tomorrow which will be his 398th race.

Ben, 34, is close to the end of his remarkable challenge of running the equivalent of 401 marathons in as many days.

The race starts at 10am and will see thousands of runners set off from King’s Park and complete the coastal marathon route around Bournemouth and Poole.

Ben has currently raised over £165,000 for his two chosen anti-bullying charities Kidscape and Stonewall.

Part of the 401 challenge is to raise awareness of the effects of bullying. Ben experienced bullying at boarding school which led to two suicide attempts and depression.

Since the challenge began, Ben has visited nearly 100 schools where he has delivered educational talks about the harmful effects of bullying.

He said: “The Bournemouth Marathon is the only official marathon that I’m doing twice throughout my challenge so I’m incredibly honoured to be the official starter for the Bournemouth Marathon.”

Abi Beautyman, Bournemouth Marathon Festival elite coordinator, predicts another, “very quick series of road races on the fast Bournemouth route” by Ukranian Igor Olefirenko and Kenyan Peninah Wanjiru Ndungu.

Olefirenko will be taking part in the Bournemouth Marathon for the first time. He completed a 2:13:33 marathon in Japan earlier this year.

Abi added: “With the current course record of 2:16:00 set by Boaz Kiprono in 2015, the Bournemouth Marathon could be in for a record breaking year.”

Four men are set to run the full marathon in a Viking ship as part of their Knights4Charity campaign. Paul, Dave, Neil and Patrick are a team of four friends who work together and share passion for supporting good causes through daft endurance based challenges.

Over the years, they have set 38 indoor rowing world records and raised nearly £40,000 for a number of charities.

Around 13,000 people of all ages will be taking part in the Bournemouth Marathon Festival over the weekend. For regular updates and race results, see our website

For a full round up of the weekend’s events and pictures, don’t miss Monday’s Daily Echo.