FORMER non-league footballer Courtenay Chessell is relishing his new career as a runner.

The ex-Fairford Town player, from The Lawns, has relaunched himself into one of Swindon Harriers' best distance runners – a status he is looking to enhance when he makes his marathon debut in London on Sunday.

“Training has been going well and on the basis of the times I have run for 20 miles, my main goal is to run under three hours,” said Chessell.

“But Gary O’Brien (fellow Harrier) says there is no reason why I shouldn’t be capable of going for 2hrs 45mins, which is the qualifying time for the championships start next year.”

That the 38-year-old has such high ambitions in only his second full season with the Harriers speaks volumes for not only his natural talent but also his work ethic.

Chessell revealed that running has always been in his blood.

“When I was at Churchfields School, I won the Swindon Schools’ cross country championships but I opted for football and played for Fairford in the Hellenic League,” added Chessell.

“When I gave up football, I applied to run the London marathon through the ballot system for about eight to 10 years and never got a place.

“I started doing the Swindon Parkruns and Gary approached me after one and invited me to run for the Harriers in the Oxford Cross Country League, which I did this winter and managed to finish in the top 10 in a few races and overall came ninth in my first season.

“I have also run PBs in the Devizes half marathon (78mins 04secs) and in the Gloucester 20 (2hrs 1min 46secs).

“I really enjoy training with the club and there is a great camaraderie in the Harriers. We have a hard core in the club and getting more people joining all the time.”

Chessell, who is running London in aid of the YMCA Children’s’ charity and has already raised £2,000, is well equipped to take on the challenge in London.

“I have strength in my legs and the right attitude, and having come back to running late, I definitely have a few more years left in me yet,” said Chessell.

“I am buzzing for the weekend and cannot wait for the race to start.”