A FORMER Oxford United striker has already smashed his fundraising target as he prepares to run the London Marathon for a West Oxfordshire charity.

Steve Basham, who played for the U's between 2002 and 2007, will take on the 26-mile challenge later this month in aid of Charlbury-based SpecialEffect.

The 41-year-old has raised thousands for the charity over the years and has already surpassed his goal of £1,500, almost three weeks before the race.

Despite a long playing career, the former footballer admits training for the marathon has been a huge challenge.

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He said: "It will be the furthest I've ever run, not the sort of distance I was used to running as a footballer.

"I've run a few half marathons and would do about 10-mile training runs for those, which didn't seem too bad in comparison.

"But it becomes really tough at 13 to 15 miles."

Mr Basham, who also played for Preston North End and Southampton, started supporting SpecialEffect about five years ago.

The charity helps people with disabilities benefit from video games, with the ex-U's man urging people to donate if they can.

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He said: "I'm really looking forward to the event and supporting a fantastic charity.

"I'd love to reach £2,000, so hopefully people are aware of what a great charity it is and donate if they can."

Five people will be running for SpecialEffect in the marathon, including one of the organisation's occupational therapists, Frankie Palmer.

SpecialEffect's Mark Saville said: "Steve has been a wonderful supporter of our work for many years now.

"When we get this kind of support from people who are big names in the community it really means a lot."