BLIND Dave Heeley is into the final chapter of this year's gruelling fundraising effort for the Albion Foundation - but he admits it could be his toughest.
The 59-year-old Baggies devotee, whose incredible feats for our charity saw him honoured as a Freeman of The Hawthorns back in March, will be competing in the inaugural Birmingham International Marathon and Simplyhealth Great Birmingham Run half marathon around the city on Sunday.
Those challenges represent feats No 21 and 22 of a 25 year-long Great Run series which closes with a 10k run in Ethiopia at the end of next month.
Dave admits he has been finding it tough… so what better way to get some fresh inspiration than to pop down to Albion’s Palm Training Ground for a motivational chat with Head Coach Tony Pulis and his staff.
Pulis, who presented Dave with his Freeman award at the Albion Foundation’s 25th anniversary dinner in March, was joined by his coaches Jonathon Gould, Mark O’Connor and Ben Garner as they gave the marathon runner a ‘pick-me-up’ for this weekend.
“This Birmingham challenge has been looming large for a while now,” says Dave. “All I know is that it’s going to be tough and it’s going to hurt.
“There have been times during these runs when I’ve been struggling and asking myself ‘is it worth it?’
“But then you think of the 'lads and lassies’ at the Foundation who are supporting you... and if you can show them an example you hope that it helps inspire them.”
Pulis added: “It’s always brilliant to spend some time with Dave - he is an inspiration to everyone. I’ve taken on some challenges for charity and know how tough it can be at times. But this man sets the benchmark for us all."
This latest Heeley project, to complete each of the 25 events in the 2017 Great Run series - believed to be a world first for a blind pairing, have seen him zig-zagging between Edinburgh, Glasgow, Ipswich, Aberdeen, Stirling, Newcastle and more besides to complete a combination of marathons, half-marathons, 10ks and 5ks.
After the Birmingham effort this weekend, he will be off to Portsmouth for another double-header before the Ethiopian finale.