Zaq ‘Marathon Man’ Bevan nears the end of a phenomenal fundraising effort
- Credit: Archant
A Sidford resident is richly deserving of the title ‘Marathon Man’, given his exploits in raising money for the NHS, writes Steve Birley.
Zaq Bevan is currently engaged in a running marathon that will ‘run its course’ for 60 consecutive days – with the ‘second half’ of the challenge being to run 30 half marathons in as many days- and is doing it all to raise money for the charity NHS Charities Together that is helping to support NHS staff and volunteers caring for patients impacted by the Covid-19 crisis.
Indeed his 60th and final day is next Thursday (June 18) when he will complete the effort with the finishing line being on Sidmouth sea front where he hopes to be, at between 6.20 and 6.30pm.
Zaq, who is 30 and works in his local shop, Sidford Spar, explained just why he is doing this extraordinary feat saying: “Due to our current situation with what is happening with the pandemic and effect it has had on our nation and the rest of the world, I decided to look at what was being done and the people who are helping (NHS) the work these guys are doing so selflessly, really inspired me to want to find a way to help them.
“I wanted to raise money and clearly, with lockdown restrictions, I was somewhat limited in terms of what I might be able to do to help.
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“The idea of running – something I have never done seriously – came up in a chat with a friend who had been running across Africa to raise funds for child poverty, but had his effort cut short owing to the pandemic.”
He continued: “Steven, who was the chap doing the Africa run, gave me some really good tips and advice and from that my 60 half-marathons in 60 days idea was up and running – complete with a justgiving page.”
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(Details of the justgiving page are shown at the foot of this article).
As for the 60-runs-in-60-days and why that came about, Zaq says: “It was all very random but I knew I needed to come up with something that would make people think ‘really’ and hopefully then inspire them to support me!”
Zaq explained how he set the idea up, saying: “I was careful with my planning in as much as I knew I needed to pick a safe route, one that needed to be completed within an hour as that was the guideline at the time. I was also very mindful that I wanted to help the NHS not hinder them, so all that came into the planning too!
Before the run began, I had done my homework by just ‘testing the water’ with family and friends to see if such an idea would catch on and enable me to reach my target of raising £1,000.”
He continued: “Once the idea was set I needed to finalise a start date. If I am seriously honest, at this stage I really did not know what I was taking on! I’d be being a little less honest if I denied that the whole thing did not begin to cause me a little angst, but any butterflies and indeed doubts, were overridden by my passion to ‘get out there’ and raise the money.”
“I really did not give too much consideration to the physical aspect of what I planned – indeed some might say I was being naive. Hand on heart, I am not a runner and it’s never been something I have ever given major thought to doing.
“That said, I do enjoy physical training, particularity boxing and gym work – I enjoy a challenge!”
Zaq then turned his thoughts to the ‘down side’ of his attempt when he added: “I am a smoker – probably 10-a-day and I figured that might come into play at some stage!”
He continued: “The plan was just to train my mental state to take on this challenge. I knew from past experience with other ‘physical challenges’ that very much, under the scope of ‘mind over matter’, everything would ultimately ‘fall into place’.”
The challenge began with run number one on April 20. Zaq says: “My first run was completed in just under the hour but what hit home was just how tough the next 59 days were likely to be!
“For the first two weeks it was mighty demanding! The strain on my knees and ankles was an issue. I have a plate in my left knee and needed to fall back on plenty of anti-inflammatory tablets to take the swelling down.
“Blisters came to the fore also but all the time I kept reminding myself just why I was doing it and what the end result was set to be.”
There was also a key element that now came into play. Something Zaq explains saying: “Offsetting the pain was seeing the obvious and very genuine support I was getting from family and friends and the local community.
“Indeed, it got to the stage where my head was beginning to tell me ‘I want to do this’ rather than ‘I have to do this’.”
He continued: “As my confidence grew I reached halfway in the challenge and felt that perhaps I needed to ‘up the anti’ and that’s when I undertook to run a half marathon on each of the final 30 days!
Today (Friday, June 12) sees Zaq once again ‘out on the road’ completing day 54 and the ‘finishing line’ is in sight!
He says: “I am on the home straight now and I’m looking forward to a rest. As much as I heave seriously enjoyed this particular journey, right now, a full day of rest sounds very appealing.”
“These past few weeks have been amazing. I have met a lovely group of people from Sidmouth Running Club that have been showing me routes around Sidmouth, keeping to my half marathon goal every day and have also had a lot of support from my local community.
“Local shop owner Graham Stout has kindly donated some better running shoes for my last few days of running for the NHS and also a lovely couple called Beth and Pete have donated me some running gear.
“I am also so grateful to the good folk who have been so generous in visiting my just giving page to help me raise as much as I can for a fantastic cause.”
On the subject of the fund-raising, Zaq says: “My target was £1,000 and I honestly thought I’d struggle to reach it, but heading into the final few days it’s over £1,300 with another £216.25 in gift aid, which is amazing and indeed, most humbling.
“If there are any folk out there who would care to support me with a donation then please, I’d just ask they visit the justgiving page. I know times are hard for all and I do appreciate every little bit that folk can manage.
“Since the journey began, I have been truly humbled by the generosity and kindness of people and I thank them all from the bottom of my heart.”
You can support Zaq and help him raise even more money by visiting