A 63-year-old endurance runner living with Parkinson’s is taking on an 895-mile run from John O’Groats to Land’s End to raise money for charity.
Neil Russell, a former art director, of Bourton-on-the-Water in Gloucestershire, believes he is the oldest person to attempt the feat that will see him running a full marathon every day for 35 days starting on Sunday.
The father-of-two decided to complete the gruelling challenge after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s when he was 60.
Nine months of training which started last November have seen him running through snow, ice and rain.
“I’ve been soaking wet, I’ve been so cold that my hands were completely numb and I’ve run when there’ve been things blowing into my face so hard that it felt like a cheese grater rubbing against my face,” said Mr Russell.
“I’ve trained in such conditions that nothing should faze me.”
He has already raised more than £2,000 for Parkinson’s UK, beating his initial target twice.
He said: “Apart from raising money, I want to demonstrate to anybody who’s recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s that it’s not the end of the world.
“You can still do challenging and amazing things as long as you have the willpower and resilience to undertake them.
“There’s no reason why you can’t carry on with normal life.”
Mr Russell will begin his epic run on the A99 from John O’Groats and complete his final 100 metres in Land’s End with two of his granddaughters, aged eight and three.
His wife Nicky, 54, will support him in the family camper van throughout the entire challenge.
She said: “I’m incredibly proud of him. Not only did he have the mindset to deal with Parkinson’s, but he also put his focus on accomplishing such a challenge.
“Parkinson’s doesn’t get better, but he’s doing this to raise awareness and say to other people: if you have the determination you can still do whatever you set your mind on.”
Parkinson’s is the fastest-growing neurological condition in the world, and currently there is no cure.
In the UK, there are around 145,000 people already living with Parkinson’s, which has more than 40 symptoms including tremors, pain and anxiety.
Neil added: “I don’t want to take it for granted that I’m going to complete the challenge because it is indeed a very tough one, especially for someone like me who’s diagnosed with Parkinson’s, but I’m confident that I can do it.
“Once I start, I’ll be in my zone and focusing on just putting one foot in front of the next.”