I'm A Rider Franics Benali
Cycling Plus|March 2017

The former southampton footballer is as tough on a bike as he was no-nonsense fullback in the 1990s.

John Whitney

I’ve been fascinated by ultra-endurance challenges since I retired.

I wondered how I’d respond to such extreme physical and mental pressure, and found out during the first of my two big challenges. Benali’s Big Run in 2014 had a concept linked to my past, where I ran 1000 miles over three weeks to all 20 Premier League stadiums. I wanted something that was big enough to capture people’s imaginations, push myself and raise as much as I could for a fantastic cause. In my case it was Cancer Research UK – we’ve been touched by cancer as a family, so the £265,000 we raised was pleasing.

The day after finishing the run, I knew I wanted to move onto the next challenge.

We’d set the bar so high the first time, figuring out how to top it was hard. We added more clubs – Premier League and Championship (44 in total), more miles, in fewer days, as well as spicing it up with the bike. It’d involve a marathon each day and a minimum of 75 miles on the bike. We’d call it Benali’s Big Race.

The cycling element was tough.

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