Beefy's Big Sri Lanka Walk: you can't beat Sir Ian for sheer pace!
Nasser Hussain and Bob Willis applaud Beefy's latest challenge - and offer advice to his fellow walkers!
By Oli Burley - @SkySportsOli
Last Updated: 06/11/13 1:42pm
It won't be quite as I imagined it as a kid, bounding in with the ball to blitz Australia, but tracking Beefy in Sri Lanka on his first overseas adventure since the 1988 Hannibal Walk in the Alps will still be epic.
The man himself says covering 160 miles in eight separate legs as "arduous in the extreme", his toughest test yet - this from a veteran of 16 walks, including John O'Groats to Land's End twice.
But the legend wasn't born from shirking and after seeing the harrowing devastation caused by the 2004 Tsunami first-hand, Beefy pledged to help disadvantaged people in the country by raising money through the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation.
To hear him talk of rebuilding Seenigama or Mankulam, ravaged by the recent civil war, would make anyone lace up their trainers and set off in 40 degree heat and 98 per cent humidity.
But how hard will it be to keep up with Beefy? Nasser Hussain (not the greatest walker, admittedly) has joined Beefy on at least two of his walks for Leukaemia and Lymphona Research and offered this advice...
"A walk is not how I would describe it," said Nass. "Don't just turn up thinking 'I'm going to have a little stroll around Colombo or Kandy. Beefy goes off at 150mph on his big strong legs; I almost had to run to keep up with him!
"Now that might be fine when it's 12 degrees and cloudy in Chelmsford but in Sri Lanka, the hottest and most humid place that I've ever played cricket by the way, you'll do well to get out of bed the following day - especially if you've been out on the curry and the chardonnay the previous night.
"Don't think you can ease off either. I tried dropping back a bit once and Beefy gave me a right volley. There is no 'can we take it easy, now Beef'. Oli - it's been nice knowing you!"
Something in Nasser's cheery send-off convinced me to get a second opinion from a man who played alongside Beefy for England in Sri Lanka's first Test - his good mate Bob Willis.
After a very long six-Test tour of India, England found themselves in Colombo with a slender five-run first innings lead at the Saravanamuttu Stadium and in danger of suffering a shock defeat to the five-day debutants before John Emburey's 6-33 set up a seven-wicket win.
"I remember the Sri Lankan people as lovely and they adore Beefy because of what he's done for them over there on his previous charity visits," said Bob.
"I've taken part in a day of five of Ian's UK walks and it has taken me between seven and 10 days to recover from one outing, whereas he just gets up and off he goes the next day.
"He's an incredible human being. Where most people would be hospitalised by the state of his feet, he simply gets his physio Dave Roberts to patch him up and off he goes again.
"The heat will be searing and it will be amazingly humid in Sri Lanka but it's just like Beefy to take on those conditions. I'm sure he'll keep rehydrated with one of the local Sri Lankan potions! I wish him good luck because he's a terrific guy - a very generous, genial human being who has done outstanding work for charity."
Beefy has been in training for his challenge for three months, although not noticeably so during this summer's Ashes, says Nass.
"To be fair, though, I try to stay clear of Botham when we're not at the cricket but I know he does sneak into the gym sometimes and puts in a few yards on the treadmill," he clarifies.
"Don't forget that Beefy lives up in 'God's country' (as he keeps telling us) and since the end of the season he will have been out walking the dog every single day, so he'll be more than ready.
"Ian Botham throws himself into everything he does and this great cause is no exception."
You can follow Botham's progress on Sky Sports News, online with skysports.com and on your Ipad. To donate to Beefy's fund-raising effort simply visit www.justgiving.com/BeefysSriLankaWalk