Jeff Stelling is set to lace up his walking boots for 15 marathon treks in 15 days

Jeff Stelling and Russ Green on last year's walk
Jeff Stelling and Russ Green on last year's walk
0
Have your say

Jeff Stelling is in a relaxed mood ahead of lacing up his walking boots for another mammoth March for Men charity challenge in aid of Prostate Cancer UK - 15 marathons in 15 days.

In less than two months, the hugely popular Soccer Saturday presenter will be setting out on a gruelling walk from Exeter City’s St James’s Park to Newcastle United’s St James’s Park.

Thankfully, Jeff - Hartlepool United’s Honorary President - is no stranger to epic treks.

Last year’s efforts, alongside former Hartlepool United chief executive Russ Green, raised more than £420,000.

And he is hoping this year - when he will again be joined by friends, family, colleagues and famous faces from the world of sport - will be just as successful.

Speaking exclusively to the Mail, Hartlepool-born Stelling joked: “It was something I was trying to avoid doing again!

Jef Stelling is ready for his March for Men challenge

Jef Stelling is ready for his March for Men challenge

“In all seriousness, Prostate Cancer UK wanted to do another big event and we went through some options but at the end of the day it made sense to me that it was within England and connected with football.

“We had toyed with walking from the southern most club in Britain to the northern most but that would have been too time consuming.

“We settled on St James’s Park to St James’s Park and it is south to north so uphill all the way!

“The Soccer Saturday boys have all said they will do it again and we have a lot of support throughout football and other sports.

Jeff Stelling is ready to hit the road again

Jeff Stelling is ready to hit the road again

“We are hoping to pull in everybody that was on it last year plus a few more - people from sport, politics, you name it!”

On Friday, June 2, Jeff will set off from Exeter in an attempt to walk 400 miles and visit 40 football clubs, reaching Newcastle on Friday, June 16.

Last year’s March for Men was launched from the home of Hartlepool United, but this year will see him finish there on the penultimate day of the challenge.

Jeff added: “Hartlepool is great and whenever I go back there - which isn’t as often as I would like - you always find yourself walking with someone anyway!

Richard Mennear.

Richard Mennear.

“You are never short of company. That is definitely how it will be and it is great we are walking into town this year.

“When we get to Hartlepool we will almost be there too in terms of the overall challenge so it will be a really nice experience.”

Having upped the ante from last year’s challenge of 10 marathons in 10 days, how do you go about preparing for such a trek?

“It is hard to do much preparation for,” admitted Jeff.

“If you are training for a marathon you’re longest run might be 18 or 19 miles and you could manage that in a few hours but if you are doing that amount of walking it can take eight or nine hours - not many people have lives where they can go off and do that!

“I keep myself in decent shape, I run pretty much every day and walk for a couple of hours with my dogs most days when I get the chance.

“And make sure your feet are in good nick before you start and of course have good footwear.

“A lot of it is a mental battle. Anybody can walk 26 miles, it is hard and painful but everybody could do it.

“The biggest battle is when you have finished getting up and doing exactly the same the next day. It is about getting your mentality right. That’s the hard part.”

When it comes to motivation, helping to raise money and awareness is all the motivation he needs.

“Prostrate cancer is one of the easier cancers to treat as long as you catch it early,” added Jeff.

“If you don’t then it is humbling, emasculating, horrendous.

“You know what blokes can be like: “We ain’t going to the doctors unless we are in big trouble and especially if it is below the waist.”

“If we can do anything to change that attitude - and it is an attitude I have had as well - then great.

“My motivation has been purely to help raise awareness. If we could get anywhere near last year’s total it would be brilliant.”

* For more information including details of how to get involved in March for Men 2017 visit http://prostatecanceruk.org/get-involved/march-for-men/jeff-stellings-march-for-men

Anyone wanting to take part can pay a £25 registration fee and pledge to raise a minimum of £300 in sponsorship.

The Hartlepool Mail’s very own Richard Mennear is set to take part in the charity feat.

Richard will join in for two days of marathon walking and this is his take on it:

Cancer, in all its brutal forms, is a disease that affects the vast majority of families.

We all know someone who has been affected by it or is currently undergoing a battle against the disease. I certainly do.

Cancer doesn’t discriminate which is why big events like Jeff Stelling’s March for Men are so important for raising awareness - and crucially - vital funds for treatment and prevention.

Last year Jeff and former Pools chief executive Russ Green captured the hearts and minds of a nation when they led the way in the first March for Men - raising a whopping £420,000 in the process.

You have to give Jeff and his band of walkers a huge amount of credit for agreeing to take part in an even bigger event this year.

Last year it was 10 marathons in 10 days, this year it is 15 in 15 days. The physical and mental challenge is mammoth.

And it is a challenge I have signed up to do. Well, two days of it at least! I couldn’t even imagine the pain and mental strength needed to complete the full 15 days.

I will be taking part in the final two days of the challenge, walking with Jeff and the team from Darlington, via Middlesbrough, to Hartlepool on the Thursday.

And then dragging my creaking bones from Durham, via Sunderland and Gateshead, to Newcastle on the final day.

As soon as I saw March for Men was going ahead I was eager to get involved. Honest. But then the reality of what is involved dawns on you.

I have previously completed three 26.2mile charity walks for Cancer Research UK but that was one walking marathon a year! This is a little different.

I’ll be providing updates as the clock to March for Men 2017 ticks down - wish me luck!

If you want to get involved visit http://prostatecanceruk.org/get-involved/march-for-men/jeff-stellings-march-for-men