RUNNING machine Billy Stevens.

RUNNING may be second nature for 20-   season Sunraysia Football Umpires Association (SFUA) veteran Billy Stevens, but the COVID-19 pandemic has seen him take his training to a new level.

Without knowing whether the Sunraysia Football Netball League (SFNL) season was going ahead, but wanting to maintain his preseason fitness, Stevens discovered virtual running races as an alternative.

While in lockdown, he completed the Hobart Run the Bridge, United We Stand and a virtual version of the Puffing Billy course using his Garmin watch and app.

Looking for a new challenge, Billy discovered the ‘Be a Hero for Heart Kids’ campaign, where individuals and teams can challenge themselves while supporting the one in 100 babies born with congenital heart disease in Australia.

Working in childcare and having a four-year-old son of his own, Rhyder, has been the inspiration for Billy committing to running five kilometres per day across June in the effort to raise funds to support HeartKids.

“I am so grateful that Rhyder is such a fit and healthy kid, but I know how many families are impacted by congenital heart disease and felt it was the perfect fit to set a fitness goal for myself while supporting a really worthwhile charity,” Billy said.

In his second year as fitness coach with the SFUA, Billy said he has enjoyed the challenge of developing his own fitness while researching and implementing variations in training to cater for all fitness levels with umpires.

“Regardless of what the SFNL season looks like this year, we have a great opportunity to provide a platform for development and growth with members who wish to push themselves,” he said.

“Finding motivation through external means can be difficult, but I am glad I jumped onto this HeartKids fundraiser to help me out personally.”