The chief executive of the Midcounties Co-operative is going to great lengths to raise £20,000 for charity by tackling the London Marathon.

Ben Reid’s challenge in aid of Dogs for the Disabled is all the more remarkable as doctors said he would never run again after he damaged his back in a charity trek in Peru five years ago.

But the Walsall-based businessman has battled back to full fitness and will take on the 26-mile course this Sunday.

Ben, who is 54, said: “I am probably fitter now than I have been for 30 years. I have been training almost every day since October. It has been tough, because it does take over your life, but it’s for a very good cause. I would be delighted if I could complete the course in four hours. When I ran the London Marathon five years ago I finished in just under five hours and I said then that I would never do it again.

He changed his mind after his running pal Paul Jay wanted to do something significant to celebrate his 50th birthday this year.

Ben agreed provided it would benefit a charity. So far his colleagues, friends and supporters have pledged almost £18,000 for Dogs for the Disabled, Midcounties’ 2008 charity of the year.The community-spirited businessman is no stranger to taking on challenges for good causes and uses his high profile job to attract sponsorship.

However, his fundraising is not without risks and he damaged two vertebrae when he fell down a ravine while taking part in a high altitude charity trek to Machu Picchu.

Ben added: “The consultant said the injury was such that I would never run again. But I found a personal trainer and worked at strengthening my back for three years. That enabled me to get back walking distances and then to take up running again. I am grateful to everyone who is sponsoring me.”