Like many pub owners, Ben Cheshire has had a stressful few years. As well as facing the pressures of keeping his business going throughout the pandemic, followed closely by the cost-of-living crisis, Ben was bereaved when his father passed away last June after living with Parkinson’s Disease for a decade.
On Sunday 14 May, Ben will be taking on the 10k at the AJ Bell Great Bristol Run, in the first of a series of endeavours aimed at turning his fitness around while raising funds for Parkinson’s UK.
A challenging time
Ben has worked at The Coronation in Southville, Bristol, for more than 11 years and has been the owner since he took on the lease in 2018.
“The last few years have been hectic and Covid was a nightmare,” he explains. “I got stressed out and ended up with a bit of a gut after swapping hours at the gym for hours spent drinking pints instead.
“I found I’d really let my health slip and, after my father’s death, I wanted to start looking after myself more. He was always very independent, but it got to the point where he really deteriorated and he couldn’t use his hands. So I’ve dedicated this year to getting healthy.”
The AJ Bell Great Bristol Run is the first of Ben’s fitness challenges for 2023 and will be followed by a triathlon the following month and a Tough Mudder in August.
“I’ve set targets to keep myself going and I’ll be raising funds for Parkinson’s UK with every goal I take on.”
Despite his busy work life, Ben’s training focuses on three-hour sessions twice per week, including swimming, spinning and running 5k.
“I cross-train at the gym, but it can be hard to fit in when I’m short-staffed,” he says. “Eating healthily is also hard when you don’t have much time. It’s not easy to get healthy options on Deliveroo.”
Ben started his training in November and has persisted with his goals, apart from being forced to pause for a couple of months to recover from a skiing accident earlier this year.
“When I first started training, I struggled to do a 5k but now it’s easy,” he says. “I thought I’d miss going for a pint, but it’s become my routine now. The other Friday the gym was shut for maintenance and I was cross about that, so it’s a sign of how much I’ve got into this. A year ago I wouldn’t have imagined being disappointed not to be able to go to the gym on a Friday evening!”
While he spends less of his own time socialising over a few drinks these days, Ben is considering running as a ‘beer Jesus’ in a nod to his role at The Coronation.
“I have long hair and a beard and my costume would include cans of some of the non-alcoholic beers I sell at the pub,” he explains. “So if any of my customers come along to support me, I’d be easy to spot!”