HE ‘survived’ the Great Birmingham 10k and refueled with a Monster Munch sandwich.
Now former Blues and Albion striker Geoff Horsfield has underlined his new-found passion for running challenges by pulling out of a stag do to take on the city’s half marathon.
But there will be two very personal causes compelling ‘The Horse’ to run further than he has ever before at the Great Birmingham Run on Sunday, October 16.
After enduring his own cancer battle, the disease has touched the Horsfield household again to devastating effect. Close family friend Kellie Wheeler, from Solihull, lost her brave fight with skin cancer three months ago. She was just 35.
Also, since completing the 10k in 51.49mins on May 1, Geoff has been busy setting up his own foundation, which provides supported accommodation for homeless and vulnerable people.
So Geoff is running the 13.1-mile challenge to raise as much money as possible for Solihull-based Marie Curie Hospice, which cared for mum-of-three Kellie during her final days, and the Geoff Horsfield Foundation.
“Kellie was one of my wife Tina’s best mates – we were absolutely devastated to lose her,” said Geoff.
“Her husband Dean, who I’m big pals with, and the children are heartbroken.
“I’ve promised to run the half marathon with Dean and split the money I raise between Marie Curie and my foundation.
“I was lucky enough to survive testicular cancer in 2008 but the disease continues to devastate so many lives – like the Wheelers’. It’s vital we keep supporting organisations trying to find a cure and caring for patients.”
Lichfield-based Geoff added: “I come into contact with homeless and vulnerable people every day, many of whom have suffered terrible domestic abuse or have been let down by their families, society or the system.
“So far, my Foundation has set up two seven-bedroomed houses in Erdington, but there is a pressing need for more accommodation and especially services to help them rebuild their lives.”
Geoff was due to join pal Jake Dolphin on his Dublin stag do on the weekend of October 15&16 but has pulled out to be one of the 20,000 runners expected to enter the Great Birmingham Run.
His preparations for the half marathon will be in stark contrast to the 10k – he plans to train for a start!
“Pulling out of a stag do? Now that’s real dedication,” quipped Geoff.
“I’ve never run more than 10k. I may have done on a football pitch, but that’s different, as it’s stop-start.
“I also know I’m going to get sucked into running the full marathon when it returns to Birmingham next year.
“I survived the 10k, but it was very hard, as I hadn’t run for two months. I started training but had to stop after pulling my calf.
“It took me about four days to recover – I was proper stiff – but it was a fantastic event.”
Geoff had two former Albion players for company and has challenged them to join him again.
“Richard Sneekes and Ian Hamilton ran with me, although we dropped Hammy with 2k left, despite the fact he’d been doing loads of training!” he joked.
“People of all shapes and sizes took part and seeing everyone who came out to support the runners, including bands playing on the corners, was brilliant.
“There were a couple of times I felt like stopping, but then I heard someone shout ‘Feed the Horse’ and it kept me going.
“The half marathon will be a huge challenge. I’m definitely going to have to train for that distance.”
Geoff’s handyman skills – honed in the building trade before he broke into professional football – have proved invaluable in his new venture.
“I had a great football career but I wouldn’t change what I’m doing now for anything,” he added.
“Some of the life stories of our residents, the things they’ve been through – you can’t catch your breath.
“We’re slowly making an impact, but there’s still so much that needs to be done.”
More than 6,000 people have already signed up for the October 16 challenge.
Anyone who ran this year’s Great Birmingham 10k is eligible for an exclusive £10 discount to take part.
Entrants for this year’s 13.1-mile race through the city – taking in famous landmarks including the Bullring, Edgbaston Cricket Ground and Cadbury’s – will be given priority entry to the Birmingham International Marathon to be staged for the first time in October 2017.