STEVE Davis wouldn’t be surprised if he finished in last place in Sheffield - that’s running, not playing snooker.
The 54-year-old is joining other green baize stars such as Shaun Murphy, Peter Ebdon and Michael Holt in the Sheffield Half Marathon on May 27.
He is attempting the 13-mile run in Sheffield, to raise money for the Paul Hunter Foundation, set up after the death of the 27-year-old to give disadvantaged children places to play sport and socialise.
Six-times World Champion Davis, now playing his 34th consecutive season on the main tour, says running has made him fitter mentally and physically.
Currently ranked 39th in the world, he said: “Next season is going to be very tough, playing in all the qualifiers and PTC events. There’s a lot of travelling involved and sometimes we play three or four matches in a day. So fitness definitely helsp. I’m going to keep the running going after the Half Marathon and maybe aim to run it every year.
“The training has been gruelling. Going the distance at the World Championship leaves you mentally tired and there were times when I lost half a stone over the 17 days. But that’s nothing to compare to the physical tiredness I have felt after running - it’s genuine exhaustion. When you are running uphill your body is telling you to give up and your legs are going, and you have to overrule it with strength of mind.
“There will be a lot of people dressed as bananas or pantomime characters running past me. I could finish last, it will be close between me and the guy in a deep sea diving costume with lead boots.”
Davis is thsi week competing in the Betfred.com World Championship qualifiers at the EIS. He hopes to win his first match and go on to face Dominic Dale for a place at the Crucible.
“The nerves have started, which is a good thing,” said Davis, who reached the quarter-finals of snooker’s biggest event two years ago. “It’s the one event each season which makes me feel uptight and insular and I enjoy that because it shows how much is still means. I will be giving it everything.
“At best, each match is 50/50, they are all good players. I just have to hope I can string some performances together.”
Davis also had some words of encouragement for his son Greg, who will attempt to qualify for the pro circuit when he plays in Q School in Sheffield in May. He added: “It will be fascinating to see how he gets on. I know he is practising his head off to be ready and I hope he enjoys it.
“He’ll have more eyes on him than most of the other players, but hopefully he’ll be able to relax and play well.
“He wouldn’t let me anywhere near the venue so I won’t be able to watch him. The only way I could get away with it would be to disguise myself as a referee! But I’ll be on the phone to the venue every five minutes to find out how he’s getting on.”
The Betfred.com World Championship qualifiers from tomorrow to April 15. Legends like Stephen Hendry, Jimmy White and Ken Doherty will be competing