Runner with cancer proves gap between those who do and those who dabble


Runner with terminal cancer proves huge gap between those who do and those who dabble

Kevin Webber, who has terminal prostate cancer, is defying the odds by running ultra marathons (Picture: Kevin Webber/ Twitter)

This week, I completed a marathon, and I’m blaming my shin splints on the royal family.

Back in 1908, when London hosted the summer Olympics, Queen Alexandra requested the starting line be placed on the lawn of Windsor Castle so her little ’uns could watch from their nursery.

Alas, that slightly longer 26.2 miles became the official distance, and I’m convinced those extra few steps ruined me.

I bring this up because, while walking this marathon, I chatted to Kevin Webber.

Kev has released a brilliant book called Dead Man Running, which chronicles the last seven years of his life, starting with a 2014 diagnosis of advanced prostate cancer, to the present day.

Since being dealt such a life-altering blow, he has blazed a trail across the world, defying all medical expectations.

Kevin Webber as released a brilliant book called Dead Man Running, which chronicles the last seven years of his life, starting with a 2014 diagnosis of advanced prostate cancer, to the present day. (c) Twitter

Kevin Webber has released a book called Dead Man Running (Picture: Kevin Webber/ Twitter)

He has completed more ‘ultra’ challenges, from deserts to mountains, from unbearable heat to unfathomable cold, than I’ve had Metro columns.


With every step sending shooting pains up my legs, he happily ambled alongside me, like someone simply popping to the local shop for a pint of milk.

I should mention this was his third marathon in three days, alongside the brilliant Jeff Stelling, as part of his March For Men, which has raised so much awareness and funds for Prostate Cancer UK.

As super Kevin jogged off to gee up another wibbly-wobbly participant, I was again reminded of the massive gap between those who do and those who dabble.

Once, I played in a doubles match at Wimbledon, and made the mistake of executing a cheeky drop shot against a freshly retired Tim Henman. It was a beauty, but it’s fair to say Tiger Tim wasn’t too enamoured.

He looked at me and simply said, “I’ll serve to you.” And he did. With all his ability.

I didn’t see the ball but I did hear it lodge itself in a wire fence behind me, roughly at the same time as my racket shot up into my face, chipping a tooth and lacerating the inside of my gum.

March For Men is raising awareness and funds for Prostate Cancer UK

I have also been lucky enough to play snooker against Jimmy White, in the twilight of his career. He gave me a 100-point lead five frames on the bounce. I never won a single one of them.

Turns out, being able to play pool quite well after six pints does not mean one can make as much as a dent in the Whirlwind.

More embarrassing than any of the above, was a five-a-side football match involving ex-footballer Pat Nevin, then in his late 40s and recovering from a recent second hip operation.

I specifically asked to be in the opposite team, giving him plenty of smack talk and announcing to all and sundry I would be ‘man marking the old man’.

Fast forward 20 minutes, I was substituted, sweat dripping from every pore and gravel lodged in my backside due to the amount of times he had put me on it.

Later, humiliation complete and pint in hand, we had a brilliant conversation about the difference between an average civvy like myself and an elite footballer, in his case a retired one who would bleep going through airport security naked.

Nevin said: ‘When I have the ball, I don’t look. I know where the ball is. I don’t need to look down. You do.

‘When you kick a ball, you aim for the whole thing. When I kick a ball, I aim for a small patch on it.’

A brilliant synopsis and an analogy that could apply across most sports.

Sometimes, as I find myself lamenting my team’s defeat or cursing a sportsperson for having an off-day, I run my tongue over my repaired tooth, think about the likes of Tim, Jimmy and Pat, and remind myself that elite sportspeople are a world away from us mere mortals.

Anyway, must rush. I’m meeting up with Jordan Spieth for a quick round of pitch and putt. I reckon I can take him.

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