Benali raises over £13,000

By SFC Media time Sun 26 Apr Saints Foundation
Photo by Matt Watson | Franny Benali

Franny Benali has so far raised over £13,000 for Saints Foundation and NHS Charities Together, following the completion of his gruelling Garden Marathon.

In sweltering conditions, the former Southampton FC defender finished the 26.2 miles in just under five hours.

The challenge aimed to raise vital funds for good causes, both locally and nationally, having smashed his fairly modest original target of £2,600 before the challenge even began.

The feat, even more impressive considering Franny's lack of training, was part of a national effort to bolster the UK charity sector during these challenging times, on the date that the London Marathon was officially scheduled for.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - APRIL 26: Former Southampton FC player and current club ambassador Francis Benali, runs the distance of a marathon on a treadmill in his garden at his home, as part of the 2.6 challenge and to raise money for Saints Foundation and NHS Charities Trust, on April 26, 2020 in Southampton, England. (Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
Benali durinf the first half of Sunday's 2.6 Challenge

Franny was joined by former teammate Matt Le Tissier during the challenge, who ran ‘alongside him’ for eight kilometres via video call.

Benali also wore a selection of different Saints jerseys from across his playing career during the five-hour run, including the very shirt worn during the 2003 FA Cup final against Arsenal.

Speaking about the event, Benali said: “In a strange way I really enjoyed it. It was amazing to see all of the comments and well wishes coming in and that drove me on.

“I was going a little bit into the unknown given the lack of training, but the legs feel ok. Running on the treadmill was different.

It was so humbling to see all of the donations coming in. it always makes challenges worthwhile.

franny benali

"At one point I had some discomfort in my knees and I had a couple of near misses, when I nearly fell off the back of the treadmill, but thankfully, managed to stay on.

“It was incredible and so humbling to see all of the donations coming in. It always makes challenges like this worthwhile.”

Greg Baker, Head of Saints Foundation, said: “We are so proud of Franny’s efforts. He came to us with a crazy idea and we were more than willing to help in any way we could.

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Gallery: Benali completes Garden Marathon challenge
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“His support for Saints Foundation has always been incredible and he has once again captured the public’s imagination and raised an incredible amount not just for us, but for NHS Charities Together.

“We can’t thank him enough for what he has achieved.”

But, crucially, Franny wasn't the only one taking part.

Also joining the fundraising effort were Saints Foundation staff and the Southampton FC Women squad, who collectively walked, rowed, rode and ran a communal 26.2 miles.

Baker added: “To see so many people, not just from the club, but from the wider community get behind us has been inspirational.

“A special mention to one of our staff members, Gareth Byres, who, like Franny, took on the challenge of running a marathon around his local area. We are so grateful for everybody’s efforts – it will help us continue to transform lives in our community and support those who need it during this unprecedented time.”

If you'd like to support Franny, you can visit his Virgin Money Giving page here.

You can also get involved with the 2.6 challenge yourself, and set up your own fundraising page with Virgin Money Giving.

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