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British actor/comedian Eddie Izzard is using his recent award for the 43 marathons he ran for charity earlier this year to encourage people in the UK get fitter.

The star was presented with a special award at the annual BBC Sports Personality of the Year event on Sunday, December 13, for his effort, which saw him run 1,100 miles in 51 days for Sport Relief. The run raised over US$300,000 for the charity, which is part of Comic Relief.

And now the star is urging the people of the UK to follow his lead and get fitter.

“We’ve got the Olympics less than a thousand days ahead and I want to encourage people to take something they used to do when they were a kid and start doing it again,” he said. “We’re all living to about 100 now – unless you want the last 30 years of your life to be going really downhill, get healthy, get fit. Then we can encourage our athletes going into the Olympics to be able to have the fittest country [supporting them],”

The star acknowledges that keeping fit is not easy, but insists that it would be a good idea – especially as Britain’s obesity and diabetes problem gets worse. One in five primary school children in the country are now classed as overweight, and 67,000 deaths in the UK every year can be linked to weight problems.

“I’m no athlete,” Izzard said while accepting his award. “Not like everybody here tonight. It was really tough. Everything was painful. People asked me if I enjoyed the running but I enjoyed the stopping! I staggered, I ran and I crawled.”

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