Neil, (51), is running to raise money for Childline, and has set himself a sponsorship target of £3,600 on completion of the 26.2 mile race on Sunday, April 23.
He said: “I thought my marathon days were well behind me but that all changed when Trinity Mirror began to work with Childline last year.
“Childline does a fantastic job to help desperate youngsters, but resources are limited and the volume of calls so great that they are unable to answer every call.
“They need a big cash injection to expand the service, and our titles will be running a campaign to support them in March. I decided that, on top of that, I would do my bit to help.”
Neil, a former editor of the Newcastle Evening Chronicle and Coventry Evening Telegraph, ran his first London Marathon in 1987 in a time of three hours and 13 minutes, and did two more over the next two years, including New York in 1989.
He is now running more than 40 miles a week, but is finding serious training tougher the second time around.
He said: “The hard part is forcing yourself to put your kit on at the end of a long day and to run alone, in the cold and dark.
“But I’m getting there, and I’m hoping to get round in about three hours 45 minutes. That would be a personal worst, but not bad for an old ‘un.”
Anyone who would like to sponsor Neil and support Childline can visit his fundraising page at www.justgiving.com/neilbenson. Giving support through the justgiving site attracts Gift Aid, which boosts every donation by 28 per cent, at no additional cost to the donor.