But when he steps across the start line at the Great North Run on Sunday, his motivation will be his mum.
Telecoms engineer Ben, 37, of Leeds, is running the half marathon to raise money for Cancer Research UK after his mum Sue Hartley, 64, was told she had bowel cancer. Her diagnosis in December 2013 was a devastating blow for the family, but Sue’s determination not to let the disease get the better of her has been an inspiration to Ben.
He said: “Mum has been really strong and she never complains even though her treatment can be tough on her. You feel hopeless when something like this happens, but this is my way of trying to help, of really trying to do something for mum.”
Since her initial diagnosis, Sue, a retired school secretary from Chapel Allerton, has found out the cancer has spread to her liver. She is having a revolutionary form of radiotherapy which is used to treat inoperable tumours, and the results so far are positive.
Ben, who runs with Hyde Park Harriers, said: “Seeing firsthand how my mum has benefited from this treatment is so encouraging.
“It just shows how the money raised for Cancer Research UK really does make a huge difference. Thinking about mum will motivate me every step of the way while I’m doing the Great North Run. I made it over the finish line in 84 minutes last year and it would be the icing on the cake to beat that this time.”
Proud mum Sue said: “I’m so touched by what Ben is doing.”