YEARS of being an overweight, chain-smoking couch potato has led a Cradley councillor to turn his life around and attempt to run two marathons for a community cause.

During an NHS health check in June last year, Cllr Richard Body – a self-proclaimed food addict – was diagnosed as obese and at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

But just one year on and the 51-year-old now lives a radically changed lifestyle.

He is even going to take on the Gloucester City Marathon on August 6 and the Birmingham International Marathon on October 15.

“I power walked daily and changed to a healthier diet and on August 6, 2016, I started to run,” Cllr Body said. “This was the first time that I had done any running since leaving school in 1982 and I hated running.”

Not exercising in over 35 years didn’t come without certain complications. Lower back and knee pain have been his constant companions.

He said: “When I had my health check I knew I had to do something. But being overweight I didn’t want to go to the gym. I wanted to exercise on my own, so started to run around Homer Hill Park.

“The park is a great place to run as it’s a cheap alternative to the gym and you can get a full cardio workout either by yourself or with others.”

After months of improving his fitness and seeing the weight drop off, Cllr Body wanted to invite like-minded people from the community to join him, so he started Cradley Running Club - a free group that meets in the park every Wednesday at 7pm for 5km runs.

“The running club is going really well and it is great to see so many people improve their fitness,” he said. “Many of the members have gone from barely being able to run for a long period at all to completing the whole 5k.

“When I complete my run I like to watch everyone else as they finish as it’s really inspiring to me that it doesn’t matter how much you weigh, you can get outside and have fun exercising.”

As part of his marathon efforts, Cllr Body is ‘Running for Cradley’ by raising money to improve the facilities for runners at Homer Hill Park; funding a fitness track and exercise equipment on the park’s looped path.

To support Cllr Body’s marathon runs, donate at

The chairman of the park’s friends group added: “We want to create a full body cardio workout track, free for all to use. But to get grant funding for it we need to put up some of our own money first.

“I want to raise £1,000 by competing the two marathons, but hopefully we can go above and beyond that total.

“Two months ago I would have said that I was in trouble. Due to my knee pain I didn’t think I could complete one marathon, let alone two, but I’ve pushed through it and have been able to run a number of half marathons and a couple of 24 milers in training.

“I’ve gone from being overweight to now being in the best shape of my life in just over 12 months, so if I can inspire others to change their lifestyles too then that would make this even more worthwhile.”