A Harborough district man is warming up to take part in one of the world’s great races to support a high-profile charity.
Steve Robertson, 61, is gearing up to compete in the Great North Run on Sunday September 12 to raise money for the British Heart Foundation (BHF).
The retired solicitor and former social worker will line up on the start line 40 years after he ran the first Great North Run on June 28, 1981.
And this time Steve’s 13.1-mile quest on Tyneside is very personal.
His mum Monica, a teacher, died in 1975 aged just 44 after having an aortic valve replacement (AVR) operation at Seaham Hall, Co Durham, when he was just 15.
“My parents split up when I was just two and I was living with my mum up in Sunderland when she died.
“It was a devastating blow and I ended up out of the family home too so it was a very rough time,” said Steve, of Gilmorton, near Lutterworth.
“My fantastic mum was just 44 years and three months old when she passed away.
“And by a staggering coincidence I also urgently needed an AVR heart operation myself at Glenfield Hospital – and I was 44 years and three months too.
“Fortunately, progress in cardiac medicine and aftercare supported by the British Heart Foundation meant my young children didn't lose me.
“So I am determined to do the Great North Run again after 40 years in my mum’s memory.
“She will be with me every step of the way and has inspired me to do this amazing race again from the start,” said Steve, a dad-of-two.
“It was brilliant to run the first event back in 1981.
“But now it’s grown to become the world’s biggest half-marathon, boasting up to 60,000 runners this year.
“It will be an ‘out and back’ course, starting and finishing in Newcastle and not going to South Shields because of Covid.
“That’s a shame but my family will be heading up to get behind me and I can’t wait to tackle it again,” added Steve, who now has a 23mm titanium aortic valve fitted.
“I’m fighting to raise £6,436 towards the BHF's priceless work.
“I’m aiming to generate that figure because on the day of the race it will be 6,436 days since I had my AVR operation.
“We’ve already raked in almost £900,” said Steve, who’s married to Julie, 53, and has daughter Catherine, 28, and son David, 25.
“My running is coming along well.
“David’s an elite triathlete and he’s written me a top-class training programme.
“I’m clocking up four runs a week in the beautiful countryside around me and I’ll top out at about 12 miles before tapering off.
“And my 100th run will be the Great North Run itself – so bring it on!!”
If you would like to help Steve along his way you can get behind him on his fundraising page here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/stephen-robertson1975