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  Wednesday, 10 April, 2002, 19:47 GMT 20:47 UK
Gordon Ramsay quizzed
Quiz Gordon Ramsay on Sport Relief
Celebrity chef and former footballer Gordon Ramsay ran the London Marathon for Sport Relief, and took time out just before the race to answer your e-mails.

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    Famed for his obsessive perfectionism and short temper, the acclaimed chef will be channelling all his energies into raising money for Sport Relief in Sunday's London Marathon.

    A joint venture between BBC Sport and Comic Relief, every penny raised from Sport Relief will go towards helping children and young people in the UK and around the world.

    Before embarking on his marathon challenge, Ramsay answered your questions on the charity and the race ahead.

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    Rob Bonnet: Gordon, can you give us a brief outline of what Sport Relief is all about?

    Gordon Ramsay: Sport Relief is an organisation raising huge amounts of funds and getting behind the nation's youth.

    We aim to bring communities together throughout the country, and to help young people who may no have had the chance to accede in their chosen sport - not only in this country, but across the world.

    We aim to get into communities, and really take some of this aggression that young people seem to experience from about 14-16. They could be channelling that into football coaching, running, swimming or playing rugby.

    Rob Procope, UK

    I am running as well and wondered if you could recommend a decent recipe for the night before.

    GR: Well firstly Rob, good luck. Three or four days before the race it's crucial to cleanse the body and drink lots of water in order to prevent dehydration. Keep it light, and don't eat anything fatty - avoid foods like cream and butter. Perhaps a simple risotto with some steamed rice would be good, and lots of spinach - plenty of carbohydrates.

    Perhaps after that, have something classic with pasta, and make sure it it's laced with some fresh tomatoes, basil and olive oil - stay away from items that are very acidic. Also, eat early. Don't eat after nine o'clock.

    RB: What would you recommend as a breakfast on the morning of the race?

    GR: Obviously, avoid any fried foods. I'm obsessed with Special K and skimmed milk. Also stay active; don't think you have to relax too much because that's not good for the muscles. On the day before have a light breakfast, a light lunch and an early dinner - that's absolutely crucial.

    RB: Is decent vegetarian diet you can recommend?

    GR: Again, I'd stick to pastas and risottos, or even soups. A lot of vegetarians nowadays eat fish, which is easy to have poached or steamed and is also incredibly good for you. Again, keep it light, stay away from cream and butter and use lots of fresh vegetables.

    RB: What about energy bars during the race?

    GR: They're a great added motivator, but don't eat any of that within the first two hours of running. The average person out there on Sunday will be running for between three-and-a-half and four hours, and taking those within the first hour will slow you down.

    RB: On television we see lots of images of people reaching for water bottles during the race. What's the view on that?

    GR: For my first two hours on Sunday, I'll take a sip of water at every water station. If you get to a water station and you're thirsty then you have to slow down, because you're going too fast.

    Take two or three sips at each water station and maybe splash the rest over your head in order to cool down. Don't think that you have to drink half the amount that's in the bottle.

    RB: Is there a specific diet depending on the weather on the day.

    GR: Not really, but the weather forecast for the day is quite mild with no rain. It will be slightly cold around the time of the start, so I would start off with a banana, and that should see you through the first couple of hours.

    Kev O'Shea, London

    How did you get involved in the whole Sport Relief thing and who gets the money in Britain?

    GR: It's a fascinating campaign for me. I come from a very basic family, and got a lucky break when I finished playing football. It was an organisation very similar to Sport Relief that helped fund my first two years at college because my parents couldn't afford it.

    So when I looked at the briefing for Sport Relief I knew it was something that I really wanted to participate in get behind. The insight and support that I got 17 years ago helped spur me on to become the chef I am today.

    Britain is constantly lagging behind in sport, and we need to have a surge of talent over the next four or five years.

    RB: There a re a number of very influential people who are simply saying: more sport equals less crime.

    GR: Exactly, and the fascinating thing about Sport Relief is that it focuses on the nation's neighbourhoods. We look at the trouble that has been experienced in Yorkshire recently - in Leeds and Bradford.

    I was born in Glasgow, and there is an accumulation of youngsters there that are totally bored, and get into drug-related problems that can led onto crime. When you get into that sort of trouble as youngster, you can be stuck with a criminal record for a long time.

    The only way to get rid of that aggression to make it sport orientated and give the young people plenty of options. So that is why I got behind Sport relief.

    Jenny Penk, UK

    What motivated you to take part?

    GR: Chefs don't get to sit and eat proper meals during the day - we graze. And that's a very bad way of living and eating. The second reason that I got involved is that I enjoy eating, and by running twice a week, I'm able to keep cooking at that level without putting serious weight on.

    I used to feel so guilty seven or eight years ago, waking up on a Sunday morning and watching the winner come through, and then focusing on the next two hours of fun and excitement behind it.

    Then when it was all over I used to think that I wish I'd done that, rather than lying in bed at 11:30 on a Sunday morning. Now that I run regularly, it's the only time of the week that I get to spend to myself.

    It sounds crazy, but it can be a great relaxation, and it's a tremendous relief to run two hours on a Sunday.

    Mark Fleming, UK

    What would be the bigger challenge: working for Marco-Pierre White or running the London Marathon?

    RB: He has a bit of a reputation, doesn't he?

    GR: Yes he does, like any good chef. Working for Marco was a fascination. He picked me up when I came out of football and put me on path to get me are I am today.

    When you're obsessed with something you want to work for a great master, and Marco was the best of the best back then. To be honest, running the London Marathon is easier than working for Marco White!

    RB: You must where out a few pairs of shoes running around the kitchens.

    GR: Yes and when you look that the excitement that surrounds food today, and the culture that has developed around it, it provides a great insight. It's that which really keeps us on out toes.

    We have to be ahead of our game, we have to stay active and fit and we have to continue to research and develop.

    Julie Halbauer, Canada

    Are you looking forward to it or are you terrified?

    GR: My mother-in-law has a huge party at her house the night before, and everyone's up early on Sunday morning.

    I've got about six or seven staff running with me this year, one of whom is a wine waiter, Ronan, who's from Scarborough. He has an amazing palate, and is obsessed with the best wines from around the world. And it's just incredible to see his focus at 9:00 on Sunday morning. This guy eats and drinks all week, yet he'll run it about 3h 33m.

    This is serious stuff for us, and it's great for the image of the profession. Chefs had always been seen as having this traumatic lifestyle where they can never relax, but each year more and more people from the catering industry run the marathon.

    RB: Running and cooking come together as far as olive oil is concerned.

    GR: Some people prefer to use Vaseline for nipple-rash and general lubrication, but chefs prefer olive oil. And if it's hot and sunny out there we're going to get quite hot, so it's a great protector.

    Jane Morgan, England

    What's the furthest you've run so far and have you hit the wall yet?

    GR: Three years ago I went to South Africa, and ran my first double marathon - 58 miles. That was for a children's charity. The London Marathon is tough, but not as tough as that.

    I was out there for nine hours, and if you don't get past the first marathon in a certain time they pull you. It's not so much the distance that's hard as the terrain. The fascinating thing there is the winners actually complete it in five-and-a-half hours!

    But yes, I do hit the wall, and on Sunday I'll probably start finding it tough around about mile 21. By then you're in pain, and you're taken you've painkillers, but that's when the support of the nation gets you through.

    RB: What is all the support worth in terms of extra energy and adrenaline?

    GR: It's a huge rush. I've been fortunate enough to play football in front of 40,000 people, but running the London Marathon is slightly different in that you have that huge support from start to finish. And the closer you get to the finish, the packed the support gets. It's a great day out.

    Becky Walters, UK

    At any point over the last few weeks have you thought: "What on earth am I actually doing?"

    GR: Three years ago I said that I wanted to do ten London Marathons, and ten double Marathons in South Africa. Then I can say to my children and my customers that I've actually done something quite substantial.

    My father-in-law is on his 54th marathon this Sunday, and is still running around 3h 37m. I did my last two hour run last Sunday, and did ask myself why I'm doing this.

    RB: what about the training schedule? One might imagine that because you do so many of these events you don't have to do very much.

    GR: I run seriously three times a week: Tuesday night and Thursday night along the embankment - 10-15km, and then a good half marathon every Sunday. You've really got get focused for the race from the September before, so it's about seven months worth of planning and training.

    If you do it like that you don't feel as pressurised, because you know you've put the groundwork in. So that's the way - sufficient training, don't get too worked up and enjoy the day.

    RB: Amongst the group you're running with, is it a case of last man home cooks the dinner?

    GR: My staff are just looking forward to beating me! But we'll sort that one out on Monday morning when we get back to work.

    Jean Mandela, Zambia

    How does Sport Relief money go to benefit African children?

    GR: The funds will be evenly separated, and more information you can look at the Sport Relief website throughout the campaign. It will carry on throughout the summer, and it will be heavily backed by the team set up for Comic Relief.

    So I don't know exactly how the money will be split, but he can certainly find out through the website.

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