Rugby league's marathon man
Among the thousands of fund-raisers and fun-seekers lining the London Marathon course this weekend is a rugby league inspiration proving everyone wrong.
In 1996 Steve Prescott made his England debut alongside St Helens team-mate Paul Sculthorpe. On Sunday the two best mates will cross the finishing line together at Buckingham Palace at the end of an incredible journey. The pair will arrive in the capital from Calais, after travelling there in a rowing boat from Dover. This after running the Paris Marathon last Sunday and cycling hundreds of miles back to England in the days since. Steve also has terminal cancer.
In fact he was given months to live in 2006 and told he would not see his children grow up.
He is one of the most inspirational men I know.
"My doctor told me I was mad," says Prescott. "My specialist pulled a face when I told him what I was doing as if he couldn't believe how stupid I was being. I'm not doing it to prove anything or impress anyone. I'm doing it simply because I think I can. And so long as my body allows me to, I want to inspire as many others as I can too."
I spoke to the two friends on Thursday afternoon as they arrived back in London to register for Sunday's marathon, before heading back to Dover to await a break in the weather to jump in a rowing boat and cross the Channel.
The London Marathon will be a gruelling challenging for Prescott. Photo: Getty
The initial plan was to kayak across the Channel but poor weather has prompted a slightly sturdier five-man rowing vessel to be ordered, with Sculthorpe rounding up old mates such as Chris Joynt to fill the boat!
Their week of pain started last Saturday with a flight to the French capital, running the Paris marathon the following day in four hours and 20 minutes. Prescott tells me that pace was a bit too quick.
"I had the most severe cramp I have ever experienced and my hamstring went 300m from the line. I had to hobble over and couldn't even stand up on the kerb. Waking up the next morning I couldn't walk. I had to cycle 110 miles. I had to be mentally tough."
Mental toughness is something Prescott has in abundance. Walking around an empty KC Stadium while filming this week I could visualise the former Hull FC full-back crashing in for a try in the corner and pulling off another thumping cover tackle.
A points machine for the Airlie Birds, his biggest fight came in September 2006 when after being treated for stomach pains he was diagnosed with pseudomyxoma peritonei, a rare form of cancer. Hearing it was incurable, Prescott was told he would not see his two young sons grow up and should prepare wife Linzi for the worst.
He hid in his room crying before deciding he was not ready to stay goodbye. Six years on Steve is going strong, as is his charity, the Steve Prescott Foundation. He was made an MBE in 2010 having gone from points machine to fund-raising machine, bringing in hundreds of thousands of pounds. The total for this latest challenge alone had passed £16,000 when we spoke this week.
"Prekky has been superb," says Sculthorpe. "He just keeps going he is an incredible human being. Unbelievable, unreal, inspirational. All of this has been done with a smile. We have singalongs on the road and that's the only time we fall out.
"He's a hardcore rocker while I'm more Take That. We've spent the evenings having our legs massaged, singing and eating, then it's up at 5 and on the bike for 6".
Prescott admits he is braced for Sunday to be the worst pain of his life. "I am shattered and I am prepared for how bad this will be. But I'm in it to win it and I plan to dip for the line after beating Scully in a sprint finish down the Mall."