FORMER Saints star Franny Benali is beginning his most gruelling challenge yet.

Benali – who last week told the Daily Echo he will fuel up on baby food – is aiming to complete seven Ironman-distance triathlons in as many days, starting in Manchester today.

Benali, who expects to spend up to 18 hours a day completing a 2.4 mile swim, a 112-mile cycle and a 26.2-mile run, explained: “I’ve been used to eating on the bike but this will be different with the days being an awful lot longer .

“It’s also about getting the timing right. I could be finishing after 10pm and don’t want to be having to sit down to a big meal after a marathon before falling straight into bed.

“It’s a tricky one to get right and hopefully it won’t be an issue but there have been similar challenges that have failed because the athlete hasn’t consumed enough calories.”

Benali underestimated how difficult it would be to improve his swimming technique, but has been pleased with his improvement.

“I had big reservations about the swimming, I was trusting in my coach who said I’d be fine,” her continued. “But I didn’t see the progress as quickly as I thought I should. I’m pleased it’s clicked and fallen into place and I feel more confident about it now.

“It’s taken months and months to get to a point where I feel ready to take it all on and am able to swim economically.

“I’m very different to where I was.

“My stroke count’s a lot less and through my training I’ve found a rhythm in the water.”

After starting in Manchester, Benali will continue his challenge in Nottingham, Leicester, Bristol, Berkshire and Farnham, before finishing in Southampton next Sunday with the swim at David Lloyd followed by the Southampton Marathon and the bike ride, which concludes at the Civic Centre.

To track Franny’s progress, visit

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