'Ultimately, if I die they still get the money'
March 1, 2014
David Flatman is preparing to suffer this Sunday © Getty Images
On Sunday, 20-stone ex-England prop David Flatman will take on the Bath half-marathon. He agreed to run the 13.1 mile course for the Down's Syndrome Association, a charity close to his heart as his brother suffers from Down's Syndrome, and while the idea was at first appealing, the brutal reality of what he is about to embark on is slowly hitting home.
"In terms of peaks, there hasn't been one yet," Flatman told ESPN. "The peak will be watching Top Gear in Sunday night, hopefully not dead. The troughs have been more numerous like when I went for my first jog after agreeing to do the half marathon. I tried to push myself a little bit as I ran in deep mud through the floods. I felt like Rocky Balboa training in Russia.
"Actually, I didn't run very far, found it exhausting and got ill. I stayed ill for three weeks and this Monday last gone I woke up with all my antibiotics finished and I felt okay and ready to go. I thought 'I can now train for the half marathon' - which was in six days. I have been running twice this week and all of my runs added up don't equal 13 miles. That gives you some idea of the challenge I'm up against."
Last summer, alongside Danny Grewcock, he cycled from John O'Groats to Lands End for the Bath Rugby Foundation and they raised just short of £11,000, but he felt the effects for a good couple of months afterwards. Flatman has only lost two pounds while training and there are more pressing concerns passing through his head such as toilet stops.
"Ultimately I'm not comfortable cycling because I'm too heavy and I don't like endurance sport much. I'm more comfortable cycling than running though as it doesn't hammer my joints. This will be tough on my ankles, knees, hips, back and neck. What I've been told to plan for is extreme pain early on which gets worse and a few toilet stops. If you're a heavy eater and you're not used to bouncing up and down it does weird things to you so you need to plan the toilet crawl. I don't want to do a Paula Radcliffe and have a bowel-related incident on the Lower Bristol Road."
The support for Flatman's challenge has been huge. He originally said he would run the half-marathon if he raised £3000, his current total has more than exceed that target.
"It'll be very nice to give them a cheque for the best part of £7000 on Sunday night. Ultimately, if I die they still get the money. There are no refunds in case of death so for the Association, it'd be great PR for them if I died in their name and the money could cover the funeral.
David Flatman with his brother Christian © David Flatman
"I've had a completely unexpected level of support. We've raised nearly £6500 and I only signed up four weeks ago so it's been amazing. The support has been unreal with some really generous people with a lot remaining anonymous. But Matt Giteau and Drew Mitchell have chipped in - I met those guys once and we had a great day at Twickenham over a few pints and a laugh. And there's no reason for them to sponsor me a lot of money, but they have. I'm sure there's something sadistic in that as they enjoy my suffering, agony and lack of preparation. Lots and lots of people have been generous and it's been amazing.
"I got a message off a chap on Twitter which said 'look, we've never met but I love what you're doing and the cause and whatever you reach, I'll round it up to the next thousand quid'. There's no reason for him to do that but people seem to really relate to the Down's Syndrome Association. My brother has Downs so people know it's real and that makes a big difference."
Update: On Sunday, Flatman tweeted to confirm he had successfully completed the half marathon.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
Tom Hamilton is the Assistant Editor of ESPNscrum.
Communication error please reload the page.
The Football Association is to launch an investigation into the alleged spitting incident between Manchester United defender Jonny Evans and Newcastle striker Papiss Cisse
Greg Growden previews Super Rugby round 4. We've also got key stats, team news and all the line-ups as they are named to inform your ESPN Footytips Super Rugby picks
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen implores rugby to ask itself 'is this really the game we want?', "if we want to encourage people to watch the game"
Tyson Fury is willing to risk his shot at Wladimir Klitschko by facing a different opponent just to "keep busy"
Missing the cut in his first US appearance of 2015 was not what Rory McIlroy had in mind when he teed off at the Honda Classic last week
Could the Force's scrum woes and the general sluggishness of the pack affect Michael Foley's hopes of Wallabies role? Brett McKay asks the question in Three Points
Ireland have the world sitting up and taking notice - and rugby's structure in Europe will aid their Rugby World Cup bid, writes John Mitchell
One of world rugby's ultimate professionals, Super Rugby's milestone man Keven Mealamu quickly learned the value of a spare pair of boots
The Chiefs are keeping the ball alive when going into contact, and this makes their low turnover rate all the more impressive, Richard Kelly writes
Join Steve Bunce and Barry Jones each week for the latest news, views and debate from the boxing world.
Amir Khan is unlikely to face Kell Brook this summer as he looks to negotiate a fight with Miguel Cotto in America
Louis van Gaal wants his Manchester United players to cut out the backpasses to David De Gea as frustrations mount among supporters over his side's unadventurous approach this season
Brendan Rodgers admits Liverpool's defeat at Crystal Palace in November left him fearing for his job at Anfield
Andre Ward has warned Carl Froch that he will be calling all of the shots over their proposed title unification bout
Emre Can sees his long-term future at Liverpool as a midfielder, but insists he will never be the new Steven Gerrard
Eight years ago, Steve Bunce was offered the chance of buying a 'share' in Tyson Fury, and it would have been a shrewd investment if he had the money
He may try and play down his obsession with his appearance, but Cristiano Ronaldo has apparently been sending a personal stylist to regularly brush up his waxwork model
Who was the 100th man to win a world championship Grand Prix?
Paul Butler tells Inside Boxing he turned down the chance of a trial with Liverpool in order to focus on boxing - and it was the right choice
Some of the best fighters to ever glove up have plied their trade in the Octagon - now ESPN list the 10 best who have fought under the UFC banner