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Page last updated at 15:57 GMT, Friday, 9 April 2010 16:57 UK
Chris Hibble runs London Marathon in aid of Focus 12
Carl Day

Update: Suffolk man Carl Day is also running the marathon, in armour

By Andrew Woodger
BBC Suffolk

A recovering alcoholic and drug addict from Suffolk is to run in the 2010 London Marathon.

Chris Hibble, who's 37 and from Newmarket, underwent rehabilitation with Focus12 in Bury St Edmunds.

The service has been used by comedian Russell Brand and television presenter Davina McCall, who're now both patrons.

"It was a lot harder to battle with drugs than it is to run a marathon," said Chris, who's training for the big event in the capital on 25 April.

"I've had a training schedule which has been plagued by a few leg, foot and ankle injuries, but it's been a lot tougher than I thought it would be."

Reformed addict Chris Hibble
Chris Hibble with his two children outside the Focus12 office in Bury

Chris's addiction story started when he was 11 years old and had his first drink. By the age of 16 he'd tried his first drugs.

He took them socially as part of the rave scene and tried everything, including ecstasy and heroin, although he says alcohol was the drug that eventually got him.

"It spiralled out of control. I enjoyed drinking and taking drugs when I first started and before long I didn't have the ability to stop by myself.

"I was forever losing jobs, being in A&E and in trouble with the police.

"It caused devastation and misery and pain to everyone that I was really close to - my family and friends."

He's now self-employed as a painter and decorator and has a wife and two children.

"It was in 2006 that I first came into contact with Focus12," said Chris. "Prior to that I'd battled with drugs and alcohol for well over 10 years.

"It came to a point where I could no longer function with or without them, contemplated taking my life and decided to get some help."

Chip Somers of Focus12
Chip Somers is the former addict who runs Focus12

Counselled to counsellor

Chris says he's been clean and sober since 2007.

"Focus12 helped me and my family rebuild our lives really. The support was phenomenal.

"They helped in so many ways - looking at my behaviours, looking at why I took the drugs.

"It's every day as it comes. I get up each day and recognise that I am a recovering alcoholic addict and, if I stay away from the first drink or drug, then I can cope with most things.

"If there is anyone out there struggling, in my experience, this can't be done alone, so you need to seek help.

"Focus12 relies heavily on outside contributions because the funding from government isn't enough for the problem that this community has.

"Alcohol's kind of the 'forgotten one'. I didn't realise that alcohol funding had stopped, so Focus paid for my treatment."

Fundraising has been his motivation for running the marathon.

"My initial thing was to try and raise enough money to put at least one person through Focus and we're getting there."

Putting an addict through the programme costs £3-4,000 depending on their circumstances.

Chris is training at West Suffolk College to become an addiction counsellor. He volunteers part-time at Focus12 where he works with the access group for people who're applying for treatment.

Focus12's manager Chip Somers said it's been quite a journey for Chris:

"We were able to respond quickly to his needs. As a result of being in Suffolk, he was able to maintain contact with his family and build those relationships right from the start of his treatment programme.

"He was reaching the end of his physical ability to cope with alcohol and has since been an inspiration to many others through his work as a volunteer."

A new regime

Chris says that, until he had his place in the London Marathon confirmed in November 2009, the last time he did any running was to "get away from the police"!

He's been training in the gym or out running five times a week, although the furthest distance he's completed is 12 miles. The marathon is 26 miles.

"His commitment to the effort needed to take part in the marathon reflects the effort and commitment he's made to his sobriety," said Chip Somers.

"We hope that he becomes addicted to marathons and fundraising!"

Details of Chris's fundraising effort can be found at Focus12 .

UPDATE: Chris completed the London Marathon in 4 hours 49 minutes - well within his target of six hours.

Running in armour

Carl Day is another notable runner in this year's London Marathon.

Georgina Wroe and Carl Day
Georgina Wrote tests out Car's suit ahead of the marathon

The Suffolk man is donning a full 6-and-a-half-stone suit of armour, including chain mail, to raise money for the British Heart Foundation after his daughter Megan was affected by a heart condition.

"We thought we were blessed with the perfect child, because she slept all the time, she'd wake up, be fed and go back to sleep," said Carl.

"It was about three months into her life that we found her blue - her eyes had rolled back.

"We shot to the local hospital, they revived her, saying we'd nearly had a cot death.

"Basically we were told she had half a heart. At one point we were told she wouldn't survive.

"She had a number of operations growing up - but she smiled through it. She turned 16 in April, and she thinks I'm a lunatic."

The metal arms mean Carl's hand can't reach his mouth, so he'll be drinking through a straw made of fish tank tubing.

Neither can he take off his shoes, so his wife will be following him along the outskirts of the course to supply plasters and offer support.

"I went out in the suit on Saturday and Sunday to prepare for the expected heat, and I nearly caused a few car accidents where people saw me coming.

"But a really nice gentleman pulled over, asked me what it was about, and gave me some money for the charity - which was touching."

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