ALL SYSTEMS are go as Donato Esposito prepares to run next Sunday’s Birmingham Half Marathon with the Olympic Torch.
The 54-year old from Rubery, dubbed ‘The Reluctant Guru,’ is known for his positive attitude and will run the Birmingham Marathon to raise funds for the Hibbs Lupus Trust, launched six years ago by close friend John Hibbs.
Lupus is a little-known, incurable disease which attacks the immune system, causing the body to attack and destroy healthy cells, tissues and organs. It has affected thousands of people.
The opportunity to run with the Olympic torch arose when Donato grabbed the opportunity at the Great Newham London Run to appear in a photograph with the torch and former long distance runner Brendan Foster.
The photograph was subsequently shared on social media and spotted by Olympic torch bearer Juanita Williams who ran the 2012 Olympic relay. Juanita herself has raised £26,872 for Macmillan Cancer Support since her father, who owned a cycle shop in Smethwick, died from cancer in November 2005.
Inspired by Donato’s quest to run the longest distance of his life, Juanita got in touch and offered to lend her torch.
Donato said: “The torch itself will not be alight during the marathon due to health and safety reasons.
“It’s actually quite heavy, weighing two kilos and is almost one-metre in length. I’ve done a few practice runs with it to find different ways of carrying it in the most comfortable way.”
He added: “When I first decided to do the marathon, I messaged John saying I’d never run so far before.
“He sent me a link to elderly people who run. So I thought I’d try something new and give it a go.”
Since then I’ve been exploring techniques that make minimal impact and use low energy yet get me round the course.
“It’s painful to begin with but the body does get used to it.”
Donato began his training in June and has already covered 280km over several months.
He said: “Much of my training has taken place in Lickey Hills, which should certainly help.”
The half-marathon forms the first part of his #55Alive project, a five-year mission to challenge himself and others to become more active while fund-raising for causes.
“I’m now in my 55th year on this beautiful Earth and want to take on some amazing challenges over the next five years, so I launched #55Alive as I’m soon 55 and happy to be alive.
“Some of my co-workers are in their 20s and its unbelievable how inactive they are.
“Apparently there’s a massive obesity epidemic in the UK and only recently there was a report that Diabetes has soared by 60 percent in the last decade.”
He added he was looking forward to the race and, particularly the halfway point in Bournville – the place where he was born.
Visit https://www.justgiving.com/GuruBrumRun to sponsor Donato.