30 Apr 2020

Royal Greens Director of Golf runs London Marathon on a treadmill

This year’s London Marathon was supposed to take place on the 26th of April but due to the restrictions in place as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it was cancelled. However, this didn’t stop Royal Green’s Director of Golf, Ben Stimson running it at home on his treadmill and raising GBP 3,200 for the charity Scope, who campaign to challenge and change negative attitudes towards disability.

Stimson, who completed the marathon in a rapid time of 3:30:49, is the Director of Golf at Royal Greens Golf Club in Saudi Arabia, the home of the Saudi International on the European Tour’s desert swing. And while he may not have had the London crowds to spur him on, he did get amazing support from friends and family as he streamed his run through Facebook. We caught up with Ben to find out more.

What made you want to run the marathon? 

Running a marathon was a bucket list objective and it’s always something I wanted to achieve. Running the London Marathon would have been the ideal location for my first marathon. However, because of the global circumstances I had to find a different solution, so, a treadmill it was!

How did you get motivated to run it on a treadmill? 

I would have preferred to do the run outside, but due Saudi Arabia being 35 degrees with 75% humidity, it was virtually impossible to complete. I was able to ensure a good running playlist was created, and I watched the London Marathon 2019 on an iPad to help with the boredom. It was still incredibly mentally challenging, nonetheless.

Ben stimson london marathon

How long were you in training?

I have been training for 12 months since last year’s London Marathon. In total, I completed 140 training sessions accumulating 1,480 kilometers of distance in 120 hours of training. Training comprised of early outdoor runs of 5km – 10km before the Arabian heat kicked in, treadmill runs of 21km – 28km for my longer distance training and many 1km surges to help build my VO2 max. It was a very fun experience.

What does the work of your chosen charity, Scope, mean to you? 

We have a very close family friend who has cerebral palsy, and this was my main inspiration for picking a disability charity. I’m delighted to have raised over GBP 3,200 for this charity.

Was there a point when you started to feel the burn and how did you mentally keep pushing yourself to the finish line?

My first run in April 2019 was a 4km at 5:44/km.  My marathon was 42.2km at 5:00/km. A big difference in pace and distance which is purely attributed to a regimented training plan and good diet.  There were many days where I ‘didn’t have time’ or ‘felt tired’ but found the determination to overcome this and ultimately achieved a quick marathon time.

Ben stimson london marathon

 Did you receive much support from your colleagues at Royal Greens?

The support has been overwhelming, during the Saudi International 2020, I had lunch with Troon International President, Mark Chapleski, who had advised of his 2 marathons of 3:24 and 3:27. It would have been nice to pip our President but perhaps this will have to wait until London 2021.

 What advice would you give to somebody aspiring to run a marathon?

Start slow and build up. Start with 3km – 5km not exceeding a heart rate of 160bpm. Once you have completed 3 or 4 of these runs then slowly begin to increase the distance to 8km – 10km again, not exceeding 160bpm. Then, once or twice per week run shorter distances but faster and around 170 – 180 bpm, this has significant benefits on increasing your VO2 max which is your body’s ability to take in oxygen and will ultimately help with longer distance runs. I spent hours researching nutritional and psychological programs and how to manage both areas and again, this was advantageous.

How proud were you when you completed it?

It was a big relief to finish the marathon, on a treadmill.  I always envisaged completing the marathon in front of Buckingham Palace with all my friends and family but this was certainly not that. However, I streamed the run through Facebook and the support from friends and family was just incredible.

ben stimson london marathon


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