Ben McBean, who lost his left arm and right leg in a landmine blast in Afghanistan in 2008, decided to mark UK’s Remembrance Day in a very special way. The 27-year-old former Royal Marine ran 31 miles (49.8 km) around London in two days using his GPS tracker running app to create the shape of a poppy, the symbol of remembrance for those who have served in war. McBean then called on the public to run around the streets and ‘colour in’ the red flower. “The people who filled it in ran 7,500 miles (12,070 km),” McBean tells Metro.
How did the story of the GPS poppy begin?
I was 20 years old when I was badly injured in a landmine blast while serving in Afghanistan. I was expected to die on my flight home, but found the strength to live.The poppy is an internationally recognized symbol of remembrance and I wanted to do my part for remembering those who have fought and are currently fighting in the past and present wars.I mapped out a running path in the shape of the flower and followed the route.
You ran 31 miles. How did you feel?
It was hard. I experienced considerable pain from my prosthetic leg but I was determined to complete it.
And you did the run for charity?
It’s important for people to spread the word as to why we raise money for these military charities. People just like me have sacrificed their lives and gone to war. Unfortunately, a lot of them didn’t and haven’t come back.Once I’d completed the 31-mile run through the streets of London, creating the outline of a giant poppy, I wanted the British public to support me by running in between the outline and donating to the Royal British Legion. The Legion supported me through my recovery after my injury and I did this to give something back to them.The public were encouraged to do their own fundraising by filling in the poppy, running through the streets within the outline.
Is it important to remember our veterans?
It’s very important. All the sacrifices made add up to us all being here today. We owe them. Literally. Veterans are our history so we should always respect and never forget. Ever.