VETERAN cricketer Phil Bees is lacing up his running shoes one more time for another crack at the Virgin London Marathon.
Phil, the vice-chairman of the Tolchards Devon League, who has played for Whitchurch, Cornwood and Tavistock during a long cricket career, ran the marathon for the first time in 2106 to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Society.
Bees’ fund-raising efforts totted up £3,000 for his chosen cause. Second time round the cause is a little closer to home: Diabetes UK.
Paige Bees, who is Phil’s seven-year-old granddaughter, was only three when she was diagnosed with type on diabetes, the most severe form of the disease.
When Bees landed a place in the 2018 Virgin London Marathon – race date is April 22 – he saw an opportunity to raise more charity cash.
“Despite not having to raise money for charity, I decided I would need help to get me through those dark, wet, cold days when I would have to go out training, which doesn’t get any easier at the age of 61,” said Bees.
“Almost every week diabetes features as the main headline on the front page of the tabloids, saying that it could affect this, that or the other.
“It is an enormous drain on our National Health Service budget and so I am trying to do my little bit to help find a cure.”
Like all converts to a cause – in in his case running – Bees has an almost evangelical passion for his new passion.
“I started running in 2012 with some work colleagues at Plymouth City Council on a Thursday evening running around Plymouth Hoe,” said Bees.
“They were soon saying it wouldn’t be long before I was running a half-marathon, to which I replied ‘No, never!’
“I have now done nine half-marathons, including the Great North Run in 2014, the race of the millionth finisher in the Great North Run and the first of Mo Farah’s four consecutive wins. He only finished 52 minutes ahead of me.”
It may have ben grueling, but Bees has happy memories of his first foot-slog round the capital.
“I ran London 2016 in a time of 4.19.37 seconds, even managing a negative split of 2.12 for the first half and 2.07 for the second half, which not bad as I had never run more than 18 miles in my training due to calf problems,” said Bees.
“I am more of a 10k runner as you can generally run them without too much training.”