Francis Benali has already reached his £1million focus on and that basically should be that. Never again’ he smiles, but he talks for one hour and his mind is whirring and his eye is twinkling and in the end he admits there might be something else. Not, for the very first time his emotions are in conflict. They know very well what he could be like.
After a trip to start to see the 2015 film Everest, his wife Karen emerged from the cinema fearing Franny may be going to plot an expedition to the Himalayas. What are my limits? Benali. ‘How far can I press myself? Post-playing career that always fascinated me. I know for an undeniable fact over these three challenges that I’ve found my limits. I’ve also found the energy of the mind is incredible when you have an objective and reason to attain something.
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Benali, 50, has been fiercely powered and ready for self-sacrifice always. As a teenager he decided if he was to fulfill his ambition of playing professional football for his beloved Southampton it would take dedication. Technically I wasn’t the most creative,’ he admits. From a young age group I realized fitness and lifestyle were important for me. I’ve never been drunk in my own life.
I made a mindful decision. I’ve never smoked or done anything that might impact on my performance. It sounds cheesy but I used to be never going to do anything to jeopardize the honor of tugging on the Southampton t shirt. I’ve always been ultra-serious. If we were on holiday, I’d pack some kit and my running shoes.
Looking back, they respected it as well maybe. I had been forced to never drink, and I came in convenient because I was getting by them to hold the whip. One day you’re a new player and the next you are not,’ he said. It is that sudden. You lose that hype from moving out before a group, doing what you like. Benali’s first challenge, in 2014, was to perform 1,000 miles in three weeks to 20 Premier League grounds. It raised more than £100,000 and he made a decision to press on for £1m.
Two years later he ran and cycled to 44 grounds in the very best two tiers of English football, a day across two weeks covering 100 mls. Sunday he completed his third problem On. He attempts to complete seven-Iron Man triathlons in seven days from Manchester to Southampton. The Iron Man self-discipline contains a 2.4 mile swim, a 112-mile cycle and a Marathon.
Karen always said her Mum was shopping for me,’ said Benali. She was my No.1 lover and it experienced like I had been helped by her on that occasion. Across the three challenges I’ve learned about the physical and emotional side. Halfway, through the first challenge I broke down once I was asked a straightforward question by my daughter completely, “how did it go today, Dad?” There have been other times when I’d be operating along and just burst into tears. Thoughts are coming into your mind about why you’re achieving this and who for. There were times when I ran with names on my shirt of individuals and friends who were fighting cancer.
Each morning we fulfilled people affected by cancer and hear their stories and I’d devote my swim to them. By the end of day four, however, Benali is at hospital for lab tests and purchased by doctors to rest for 48 hours or risk long-term damage to his essential organs. My eyesight was blurry and I couldn’t continue reading my device just how many miles we’d done,’ he said. I was weaving a bit away from home. Even stepping onto the web was a monumental effort. I guess the signs have there been.