Benali’s Big Race – OS map being auctioned

Southampton FC legend Franny Benali ran and cycled to all 44 English Football League Premier and Championship clubs to raise money for Cancer Research UK. Now he’s raising more money with a charity auction – which includes a rare OS map.

Franny started his challenge at the Vitality Stadium in Bournemouth on 2 October 2016. During his challenge he visited, among others, Swansea, Newcastle, and Ipswich on his way back down the country, before finishing at St Mary’s Stadium in Southampton on 16 October. During this 15-day challenge he ran almost 400 miles and cycled well over 1000, raising over £500,000 for the charity. We were on hand to support Franny during the challenge with all he needed to successfully navigate his way around the 44 stadiums.

On 20 May Franny is hosting Benali’s Big Ball where he will be auctioning off several exciting items including a very rare Ordnance Survey map commemorating the challenge itself. This map has been designed by our GeoDataViz (GDV) team and is a fitting reminder of a great achievement.

Paul Naylor from the GDV team explains how the map was made.

The map was an opportunity to show just what an incredible achievement the challenge was and we wanted to create something that encapsulated that. The first step was to look at the information we had.

  1. 63 GPX routes
  2. 44 stadium locations

Our first thought was, ‘let’s make a map showing the stadium locations and the route.’ Done. But what else could we show? Was ‘just a map’ the best form of visualisation?

A data visualisation is taking information and visually displaying it in a way that makes it easy for the audience to understand.

We started by agreeing a colour palette for the visualisation. The green grass of a football pitch and white pitch markings seemed the perfect choice and we settled on this palette:


DARK GREEN: C90 M30 Y95 K30

WHITE: C0 M0 Y0 K0

Next, we created a simple map of Great Britain displaying all 44 stadiums and the actual GPX routes used by Franny during the challenge (these were simplified to be more relevant to the scale). This map was the focal point for the visualisation.

Next, we decided to create a timeline showing which stadiums were visited each day. To add another dimension, we took the building footprints for each of the stadium’s from OS Open Map-Local and set these alongside the stadium information and date.

Then we wanted to show just how grueling some of the terrain Franny had to endure was. For this we took the GPX routes and created a terrain profile that we could use to show the elevation between each stadium. We also calculated the overall elevation gain and included this as a key statistic.

To finish we wanted to make the map a bit more personal. We did this by adding some of the geo-referenced tweets that were sent during the challenge and added these to the map. 

In all we hope the data visualisation is something Franny can use to remember the challenge and will be a lasting reminder of just what he achieved.

For a visual deconstruction of how the visualisation was made click here (PDF).

To see the map in more detail, visit our Flickr page.

If you want to own a piece of limited edition Ordnance Survey dataviz which will be personally signed by Francis Benali himself then please visit https://www.bbb-auction.com/lite-ui/#home. Here you can bid for the signed map and a host of other prizes all in aid of raising money for Cancer Research UK.

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