How a brutal stabbing became the start of something good...

Phil Hewitt
Phil Hewitt

Festival of Chichester chairman Phil Hewitt discusses his new book at this year's Festival

Festival of Chichester chairman Phil Hewitt will explore the healing power of running – in conversation with Chichester-based novelist Kate Mosse for this year’s Festival of Chichester.

They will be in conversation in the Oxmarket Gallery on Thursday, July 4 at 6.30pm.

Tickets are £10, all as an Oxmarket fundraiser - available here or on 01243 816525 or 775888.

After watching a cricket match in Cape Town, South Africa, three years ago, Phil was mugged – stabbed, punched, kicked and effectively left for dead in a grim, desolate suburb.

Astonishingly, just as he could feel himself starting to drift away, he was scooped up and whisked to hospital by a passing pizza delivery driver. Two deep stab wounds, 15 stitches, three broken ribs, battered liver and stomach, bruised all over.

Phil resolved to put himself back together again by getting back to his first love, running…. And it proved a remarkable way to outrun the demons of his blood-soaked pavement. Which is why it became the title of his new book – Outrunning The Demons (published by Bloomsbury).

Buy the book here from Amazon

In it, Phil tells of his own experiences and their aftermath – and also interviews 34 people from around the world who, as he says, have been to hell and discovered that the surest, safest, quickest way back was to run. He interviewed people caught up in 9/11 and the Boston Marathon bombing; people who have lost loved ones to murder and natural causes; people who have suffered addiction, alcoholism, anxiety, depression, violent and sexual assault; sheer bad luck – and even a nose-diving jet. The result is a remarkable collection of stories about hope and survival – a genuinely uplifting celebration of the strength of the human spirit and all the good that is unleashed simply through running.

“Kate is a dear friend of many years standing,” Phil said. “She has been a massive supporter of the Festival right from the start, and she has been massively helpful through some of the trickier moments since getting stabbed. Just as importantly, it was over a pizza with Kate a couple of years ago, that the idea for this book first took shape. It’s seems wonderfully appropriate to be discussing it with her now.”

See video interview with Phil

Phil admits he is far from over the stabbing. Most people know now not to approach him from behind or make sudden noises around him: “Having an absurdly exaggerated startle reflex is embarrassing and actually quite exhausting, but I have tried to change the way I think about what happened to me. If I am jumping out of my skin, at least it is a constant reminder that I actually survived. It has been really hard, stupidly hard, but the day I was stabbed no longer seems like a ghastly end point. It is now seeming like the rather painful starting point on the way to some really exciting things – the people I have met through the book, the book itself and the things that have happened since the book. As they say, experience isn’t about what happens to you; it’s about what you do with what happens to you, and since the book came out I have appeared on the Today programme and the Jeremy Vine show; I have spoken at the London Marathon Expo; and done numerous UK, US and Australian interviews. And if my leg still hurts, then it’s only because I am still here!”

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