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Jeff Stelling Marches Again For Prostate Cancer UK

Mon 27th Mar 2017 | Football Sponsorship

Intrepid Sky Sports presenter Jeff Stelling will lace up his walking boots once more in another unbelievable walking challenge for Prostate Cancer UK.

Teaming up with the leading men’s health organisation, the long-standing Soccer Saturday host is aiming to raise £500,000 on his March for Men, walking 15 marathons in 15 days at the start of June, from Exeter City FC to Newcastle United FC.

Last year Stelling and close friend – former Hartlepool Chief Executive - Russ Green walked 10 marathons in 10 days from Victoria Park, home of the League Two club to Wembley, a place Pools have never been. Along the way he was joined by famous friends and colleagues and people affected by prostate cancer and he raised more than £420,000.

fcbusiness editor, Aaron Gourley, who joined in the fundraising walking the first stage from Hartlepool to Marske in 2016, caught up with Jeff to discuss this year’s challenge.

Aaron: For this year’s challenge the route has changed, it’s now coming south to north –St. James Park to St. James’ Park covering a bigger distance this time. Tell me more about it.

Jeff: We’re going from St. James Park, the home of Exeter City FC in Devon to St. James’ Park, Newcastle United’s home in the North East which I think is a good way of doing it. We wanted to finish somewhere where the calibre of stadia is such that you could say it’s one of the great cathedrals of football.

But essentially I wanted this to build on the achievement but be more of an effort than last year’s. We walked 10 marathons in 10 days and I thought about 20 in 20 but I think that’s a bit beyond me so we had a compromise with 15 in 15.  I’m pretty sure by day 2 or 3 I’ll be thinking “what on earth am I doing?”

It’s a big effort for a great cause.

Last year it was difficult at times but when it peaked it was a phenomenal experience, I really enjoyed it. There were some amazing days and amazing people and we raised an amazing amount of money as well as raising awareness of Prostate Cancer. Basically we achieved everything we set out to achieve.

I can look back at it and think that was a great 10 days. So hopefully this will be as good. I have the ability to help raise awareness and whilst I’m physically fit enough to do this I should be doing this. I don’t do much the rest of the year so I can give up a few days to do this.

The route includes a big spread of football clubs and towns and cities, is there any section this year that you’re particularly looking forward to?

Yeah, when I see St. James’ Park – the Newcastle one! Last year when we reached Wembley we had to walk around a few times to make the miles up. This year I’m hoping it will be straight to St. James’.

We’re going to visit as many football clubs as we can but also Rugby Union and Rugby League clubs as well as Old Trafford cricket ground and Durham CCC’s ground, so we’re also getting other sports involved this year.  It’s about getting the message to as many men as possible.

But I’m looking forward to lots of it. One of the legs takes us from Chester into Liverpool via Tranmere so we’ve got Chester, Tranmere, Liverpool and Everton -  a heartland of football.

I want to see my old mate Ronnie Moore the former Tranmere and Hartlepool manager. Phil Thompson is going to join us on a little stretch of the walk that takes us from Liverpool to Everton – I don’t think he’s been to Goodison Park since his playing days. He’ll get some stick there as I might do too.

We then cut across the country and go through some of the most beautiful parts of Yorkshire. We then head to Darlington where I will have my tin hat on, being a Hartlepool man. I’m pretty sure the good folk of Darlo will come out and give us a warm reception as opposed to a hot one!

So who else can we expect to see out on the walk with you? Will Chris Kamara be out there again?

Yes, Kammy will be out again, there’s no question about that. All the usual suspects from last year and we’re hoping to get a few more people roped in – I mean ‘encouraged’ to participate.

The reaction from last year was incredible. A good number of them [walkers] will be fundraisers, people who are living with, recovering from or know of someone that’s been affected by Prostate Cancer.

But there’ll be a few inspirational figures from the world of sport too. Sir Ian Botham turned up when everyone’s spirits were low and he did that unannounced, nobody knew that he was coming and that was a fantastic lift for everybody.

So again it’ll be a broad spectrum of people from the world of sport, entertainment, TV and politics. There’ll be a lot of people taking part one way or another.

I walked with you on the first leg and had a fantastic day but I was so tired by the end of it. There was a great mix of people, some with great stories to tell. However, I could barely walk the next day. 

It had a great camaraderie about it and that carries you along. 

A lot of the guys who did it had been involved in professional football or were still involved and a lot of them said to me that they could not believe how hard it was the next day. People like Malky Mackay who is still actively involved in football was in agony the next day and so many people have said that.

I think people underestimate how hard it is to walk that far.

Yes, and it’s so unnatural to be walking for that length of time and you use your body in ways you wouldn’t do if you were running a marathon. I was told beforehand by and actress, that she found it harder to walk a marathon than run a marathon and I thought “come on, how can it be?” But in retrospect, I think she was right.

Apart from the strain and the repetitiveness it puts on all of your muscles I think mentally you’ve got to be able to cope with that.

So do you think you’ll be better prepared for this year’s walk?

I think I’ll be prepared in different ways. I’ll have more idea about basic things like footwear. I’ll be more aware of what to expect too, which is not always a good thing. But I’m hoping to turn it into a positive, mentally.

Last year, I was told that after 5 or 6 days my body would adjust and I didn’t believe them, but they were absolutely right. I got up after day 6, if not like a spring lamb, but a lot better than I had the night before. So that is a target to get to that stage and hopefully things will get a bit easier.

The fact that it’s over 15 days, mentally you’ve got to be prepared and got to be strong. It will help me that I’m heading towards the North East, heading towards home – that will be a big help.

We’ll also be going through Blackpool and Morecambe so we can have a stroll over the beach.

With an ice cream?

Of course, it’s going to be fun.

So what is the target for fundraising this year?  

I my mind there’s not a target. To me that is secondary but a welcome by-product of what we are doing. People were fantastic the way they came out and supported the walk financially last year as well as actually being on it.

But for me it’s to try and spread the word that Prostate Cancer is a killer but it’s a cancer that can be beaten and we’re getting closer to beating it.  It’s about spreading that message to men that might not want to go to the doctors about something like that but it’s worth it.

Hartlepool, Newcastle and Exeter, they want those bums on seats in 5 and 10 years time. If you look after yourself and check things out you’re more likely to be able to do that.

##

Get Involved

Starting in Devon on Friday 2 June, Jeff’s March for Men - prostatecanceruk.org/jeffsmarch – will see the Sky stalwart walk 400 miles from the South West to the North East with the symmetrical stroll starting at St James Park, home of the Grecians, and ending at the Magpies’ St James’ Park a fortnight later.

Clocking in at 400 miles, Jeff’s journey will see him visit more than 40 football clubs, heading up the west of England via Bristol and Stoke and through the northern footballing hotbeds of Merseyside and Manchester, before cutting across the country and ending at the home of Championship high flyers Newcastle. Of course, his boyhood club, Hartlepool United will be en route and he will also start the final day at Durham County Cricket Club.

The mega event is part of Prostate Cancer UK’s wider walking programme, March for Men, which includes a trio of Local Walks across Father’s Day weekend, in London on June 17th and Leeds and Glasgow 24 hours later. The charity will also be encouraging supporters to hold their own marches to try and raise £1 million through walking in 2017.

This money will have a huge impact on the lives of those affected by prostate cancer and will help bring us one step closer to stopping prostate cancer being a killer.

Visit www.prostatecanceruk.org to see how you can get involved. 

Posted by: Aaron Gourley 

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