“When we did the first walk from John O’Groats to Land’s End in 1985,” says his Beefiness, “there was a 20 percent survival-rate for people with leukaemia. Now that’s up to 80 percent and I won’t stop walking until it’s 100 percent. If we can beat one form of cancer, who knows what doors that’ll open.”
Then, this from a piece just ahead of his 11th walk.
By 10.50am, Beefy is standing next to a makeshift podium on Finsbury Pavement, doggedly running through an array of limbering-up exercises. It is the sort of ritual I swear I never saw him bother with in his days on the cricket pitch – a concession, perhaps, to his advancing years? Perhaps not. He’s still going about his business with the intensity of an athlete, and besides, I’ve heard legendary tales about his approach to days such as this.
So, too, have his mates who’ve come along for the ride. Where once he would march elephants across the Alps, now Botham merely thumbs through his directory of drinking buddies, and subjects them to a beasting they will never forget. “Beefy told me just to pitch up at M&S, be there before 11, and we’d go for a little walk,” explained the South African golfer Ernie Els, one of six head-turning additions to this peculiar pavement melee.
Photographs by Adrian Murrel
Sir Ian Terence Botham’s “fighting leukaemia” website bothamwalk.com here