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The Marathon Man from Tewkesbury
Runners get underway in the London Marathon 2003
Runners get underway in the London Marathon 2003 SOURCE: GETTY
Last updated: 26 April 2004 1106 BST
lineNeil Hall, from Tewkesbury, is going to tackle this year's London Marathon to raise cash for a Cancer charity. In this feature, he talks about his inspirations and the challenge of preparing to run the arduous 26.2 mile course...
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Over the next several weeks we're going to be following the progress of a local runner who's preparing himself for the near 27 mile challenge that is the London Marathon.

Neil Hall

Neil Hall, from Tewkesbury, is a PE teacher at Winchcombe School and the London Marathon will be his first attempt. At the moment, he's currently training hard to prepare for the physical ordeal of running the 26.2 miles.

In the past, he's often looked at the London Marathon and fancied giving it a go but never took the plunge. This year, however, he was inspired to enter after reading an article about the former boxer Michael Watson.

Michael Watson's story

Michael Watson suffered brain damage in his WBO super-middleweight title fight defeat by Chris Eubank in September 1991. After the fight, Watson spent 40 days in a coma and Doctors initially predicted that he would never walk again. The physical damage that Watson sustained in the fight would have killed an individual who was less fit.

Yet Watson refused to be defeated by his disability and he fought to regain mobility. In 2003 he took on the massive challenge of completing the London Marathon.

Michael Watson finishes the 2003 London Marathon

Despite being partially paralysed, he made it around by walking two miles in the morning and two miles in the afternoon, resting and sleeping in a double-decker bus which accompanied him along the course.

Finally, he finished the 26.2 mile course some six days after he had originally set out - a remarkable achievement for someone who was told by doctors that he would never walk again.

Neil felt that if Michael Watson had the courage and determination to tackle the London Marathon then he should do the same.

Neil's challenge

Being Neil's first marathon, he's been in training for it since September 2003. He's slowly been building up his stamina for long distance running.

That hasn't been an easy task - the early dark nights over the winter period made running on the streets difficult. It was a problem Neil overcame by turning to the treadmill inside the gym at Winchcombe school.

That created its own problems in terms of boredom, with only the wall in front of the treadmill to look at while he spent hours training.

Despite these setbacks he continued to build up his stamina, gradually increasing his distance running abilities and he now hopes everything will be place for the marathon which takes place on April 18th.

Neil's family

Neil sees the marathon as a big personal challenge but he also plans use his endeavours to raise money for the charity Cancer Research UK. He's also being sponsored by his school too.

He knows the marathon will be difficult but he says he's looking forward to the challenge and he's determined to finish it:

Start of quote I'm actually going to make it one way or another. If it's crawling, I'll make it that way but I'm a little more confident now I've got the miles under my belt. End of quote

Neil Hall's London Marathon Diary

3rd April 2004

Start of quote This week my school has organised a series of events to raise cash for my chosen charity.

I've chosen Cancer Research UK because I lost my Mother to cancer twelve years ago. I saw her go through quite a bit of suffering and I think that if I can go through a bit of suffering on April 18th to raise some cash for the charity, then it's for a very worthy cause.

Hopefully the cash raised will help to prevent other people from going through that pain in the future. This cause is something that's very close to my heart and maybe it's also something the schoolchildren can relate to because so many families have had experience of it.

Looking forward to the marathon, I've just heard that I'm due in school the day after. Fortunately, the Headmaster assures me that my classes will all be on the ground floor! End of quote

PointerAudio: Emma visits Neil at School

28th March 2004

Start of quote I had a slight mishap the other week when my four year old son left his Buzz Lightyear on the stairs. The door bell went and I charged down to answer it, stepping on Buzz. It had a devastating effect on my training because I couldn't put my foot down for a whole week and it was very painful.

Fortunately I've recovered from that injury and I'm looking to run 18 miles this week. Hopefully that's going to go well. End of quote

19th March 2004

Start of quote Only five weeks to go and all of a sudden I'm starting to feel a little nervous.

I did my longest run so far on Saturday, it was around 16 miles. My legs felt a bit heavy
at the end but breathing was fine.
I still haven't mastered the running and drinking at the same time.

Sponsorship is going well and the school have
organised a number of activities next week to help my fundraising. However, I'm not too
sure about the teacher in the stocks idea! End of quote

10th March 2004

Start of quote Last week was not such a great one on the training front.

I made the mistake of trying to train when not feeling too brilliant, I got to fourteen miles and felt as though my legs had been pumped full of lead!

I feel much better this week and hopefully it was a minor setback. End of quote

27th February 2004

Start of quote Just seven weeks to go and all of a sudden time seems to be flying by.

This week the emphasis has been on developing the ability to run at faster than race pace and hold the pace for an increasing amount of time.

The idea being that when I return to running at race pace life becomes a little easier .

I Should find out tonight when I look to increase my weekly long run to around 15 miles.

The nights are getting lighter which is a big help I just hope my legs and lungs are up to it. End of quote


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