HE may have only just taken up running, but reformed smoker and couch-potato Jim Humble has already set himself a marathon challenge.
The 53-year-old, who trains with the Sunderland Strollers Running Club, was introduced to the sport by a friend last year.
Since then, the former pipe smoker has completed a 10km race in Salzburg, Austria, and the Great North Run, in Newcastle.
Now, less than 12 months after first pulling on his running shoes, he is about to take on his first marathon in the blistering heat of Mumbai, India.
“I decided to take up running after being introduced to it through a friend,” he said. “Up until then, I’d never really thought about it.
“I was a smoker and couch potato.
“But when you get to your 50s, you have to make a choice.
“You can either continue to get more and more unfit or you can do something about it.
“And I really took to running when I became a member of the Sunderland Strollers.
“I made a lot of friends and really enjoyed it.”
Jim, who won the chance to take part in the race through a free draw on the Sightsavers charity website, has been raising money for the organisation in the weeks leading up to his run.
The performance development manager at stairlift provider Stannah said he has been supported by his workmates and wife Michele.
“I have been aware of Sightsavers for many years, but was particularly drawn to its trek across the desert as part of Comic Relief,” said Jim.
“It will be an honour and privilege for me to be running for it in Mumbai and I look forward to seeing the work done by the charity when I visit.
“My colleagues at Stannah have been great in helping me increase awareness of my run, so we can raise some money on the back of this great adventure.”
In preparation for the marathon, Jim has upped his regular training runs in preparation for the 26-mile feat in India.
Jim, who lives in Whitley Bay, hopes to finish the marathon in about four hours and 30 minutes.
Sightsavers’ development manager Katrina Scaife, who ran the Mumbai Marathon in 2010, said: “Over 150 running fanatics entered the Run Mumbai competition which gives us the chance to send someone on a once in a lifetime experience while raising awareness of Sightsavers’ work in India.
“I wish our winner, Jim, lots of luck and thank him in the advance for the funds he is raising for Sightsavers.
“Every £17 Jim raises can help transform someone’s life with a sight-restoring cataract surgery.”
Chief Sponsors Standard Chartered donated the marathon place.
Flights have been donated by Skywards, the award-winning the frequent flier programme of Emirates Airlines
To sponsor Jim, visit www.justgiving.com/RunningMumbaiforSightsavers.
SIGHTSAVERS works in developing countries to prevent and cure blindness.
It aims to restore sight through specialist treatment and eye care and support people who are irreversibly blind by providing education, counselling and training.
It has worked in India for more than 45 years.
With an estimated quarter of the world’s blind people living in the country, the charity aims to raise £1million to deliver eye care services to some of the poorest people in the country.
Its “Run Mumbai” competition will help to raise awareness of this campaign.
For more information about the charity or make a donation, call 01444 446600, between 8am to 5pm, or email email@example.com