Chef keen to ensure wine expert doesn’t make meal of race

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CHEF Michel Roux Jr has a lot on his plate this spring as he runs his 18th London Marathon and mentors first-time racer and TV wine expert Olly Smith.

The two-star Michelin chef will be among the thousands of fun runners, keep-fit enthusiasts and top flight athletes who will flock to London’s streets on April 21.

These include wheelchair racer David Weir who won four golds at the London 2012 Paralympics.

The annual race has raised more than £610m for charity since it began in 1981.

With £52.8m raised in 2012, last year was the sixth in a row in which it hit the record books by being the world’s biggest single charity fundraiser.

Smith, 38, has strong personal reasons for wanting to make it around the 26-mile course.

He is running to raise money for Brighton-based charity Rockinghorse. The non-government funded charity is the official fundraising arm of the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital and supports the Trevor Mann Baby Unit.

He said: “My youngest daughter Lily who is five was treated at the Royal Alex last year after a nasty blow to the head when she suffered a very small bleed on the brain.

“The staff there offered the perfect balance of care and medical expertise to help us through that tricky time.”

Any money raised by Smith will be used for life-saving and cutting-edge medical equipment. It will also help ensure that children are treated in an environment that is better suited to their needs.

Smith, who has lost more than three stone to 12st 6lb (80kg) by cutting back on food and cycling daily, admits that he is “terrified” of his first marathon but that he is determined to succeed. He said: “I’m not a natural runner. In fact, before I started training with Michel, I don’t think I’ve run a step since school.”

Roux, 52, who will be running the marathon in aid of VICTA (Visually Impaired Children Taking Action), said: “I have run marathons all over the world but none come close to the spectacular Virgin London Marathon for support and passion.”

There were a record 36,705 London Marathon finishers in last year’s race .