The legendary Soccer Saturday presenter begins his second epic fundraising walk for Prostate Cancer UK, hoping to raise more than £500k and visit more than 40 football clubs on a 400-mile trek to Newcastle. After all the build up and excitement, these are the highlights of a nervous and emotional first day in Devon.
With his trademark smile aimed at the gathered national and local press, Jeff Stelling took the first step on his 400-mile March for Men from Exeter City's St James Park stadium.Sponsor Jeff
The second time the Soccer Saturday presenter has undertaken an epic fundraising walk for Prostate Cancer UK, his aim this year is to complete a massive 15 consecutive daily marathons and bring his total raised for us to over £1 million.
"I'm a bit apprehensive to be honest," Jeff admitted to a journalist from Devonlive at the start-line. "When we did 10 marathons in 10 days, it was tough. So 15 in 15 this year is a bit daunting.
"Part of me is looking forward to it because it's the start of another big adventure, but part of me is just hoping I get through it!"
Jeff will visit over 40 football clubs on his country-wide journey to reach St James' Park in Newcastle on Friday 16 June.
But today's leg took him and his 25 fellow marchers just over 27 miles through rural Devonshire, visiting Western League Premier Division's Willand Rovers FC, before arriving at Wellington FC, a league below their neighbour.
Although the weather was overcast with spells of rain, spirits were high as the walkers enjoyed no shortage of great views along Devon's famous winding green lanes.
In the many towns and villages en route, the public turned out to cheer on in support as the marchers passed by local pubs, schools and shops.
And the rolling countryside in between was no less welcoming: the owners of Bustons Farm even laid on cups of tea for the tiring legs as the afternoon crept into evening.
Among those walking with Jeff for the day were Angela Culhane, CEO of Prostate Cancer UK, and our chairman, Charles Packshaw.
For a few miles at the start, there was also Dan Green with his family. The Exeter City's youth coach walked alongside his dad, Rob, who is being treated for aggressive prostate cancer.
“We’re walking with him to support him and anyone else that might end up getting prostate cancer," Dan told us of what was an emotional day for the family.
But one person doing all 15 days with Jeff is Kevin Webber [pictured above]. Given just two years to live in 2014 after being diagnosed with incurable prostate cancer, he's now a veteran of some of the world's toughest ultra marathons and is doing March for Men as part of his 1,000-mile fundraising challenge for Prostate Cancer UK.
"I know I’ll be able to draw on so many uplifting thoughts," said Kevin about the gruelling miles ahead. "Since just being here is something that, 30 months ago, didn’t seem possible."
And despite his smile losing none of its shine at the finishing line in Wellington, Jeff admitted it's going to be a mental battle for him, too.
"You've not just got to battle with the body, but the mind as well," he said. "You tell yourself you're not really feeling the pain at all and that you'll get up the next day to do it again, no matter what your body tells you."
Good luck, Jeff! Only 14 days and 373 miles to go until you reach Newcastle...