A determined runner has spoken movingly about his “amazing” father as he prepares for the last month of a year-long challenge to raise money and awareness of a life-shortening disease.

Alex North is aiming to run at least 1,000km this year after his father Peter North was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in July 2020.

Describing himself as a person who “always liked running, but I’ve never run that much before”, Alex is now within 125km of achieving his goal and has almost reached his target of raising £10,000 for the South Herts branch of the Motor Neurone Disease Association.

Alex, who lives in London but grew up in Abbots Langley where his family still live, set himself the challenge when he was out for a run during lockdown.

He said: “For me it was a way of talking to my parents and being open about it because when you’re in lockdown and you’re not able to spend time together or see each other it was a weird position to be in.

“My dad was really supportive of it and he’s had some really amazing support from the South Herts association and I want to make sure the funds go to them.”

Motor neurone disease affects the nerves in the brain and spinal cord that tell the muscles what to do. These messages gradually stop reaching the muscles and affect the ability to walk, talk, eat, drink and breathe.

Speaking about how his father has confronted the disease, Alex said: “It’s been incredibly difficult for him because he’s one of those people who’s a doer. He hates to be demanding on other people, so I think for him that’s been the most difficult thing.

“It’s such a cruel situation to be in, but he manages to keep his spirits up. I don’t know how he does it. He still manages to make us laugh, we’re texting each other all the time. He’s been amazing despite the difficult circumstances.

“He’s very supportive of raising awareness. The money is one thing, but it’s really the awareness that’s the most important thing for him.”

Alex has had to contend with setbacks over the past year, including injury and illness, but he is determined to reach his target.

He said: “As long as I don’t injure myself or get sick I should be fine, but I’m definitely going to do it. Whatever it takes just to get over the line, even if I have to end on a marathon to finish it off, I’ll get there somehow.”

Alex has a JustGiving page https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/AlexanderCharlieNorth