1. ITV Report

Runner aims to be first with motor neurone disease to run London Marathon

A former professional footballer is aiming to become the first person with motor neurone disease (MND) to run the London Marathon on Sunday.

Mark Maddox played for Altrincham and had always led an active athletic life. He had just begun to realise his ambition of becoming a football coach when he was diagnosed with MND.

Mark ran the Liverpool Marathon last year. Credit: Mark Maddox

Since his diagnosis two years ago, Mark has already run the Liverpool marathon in a time of six hours and taken part in a sky dive, all to raise awareness as well as funds for the Motor Neurone Disease Association.

Mark 'Maddog' Maddox when he played for Altrincham FC. Credit: GR Photography

Typical life expectancy is between two and five years after diagnosis and around half of those who are diagnosed with the disease die within 14 months.

The disease attacks the nerves and leads to muscle wasting, affecting how sufferers walk, talk and breathe.

The news that he had an incurable disease was devastating for the 40-year-old athlete and his young family.

However Mark has remained optimistic about what he wants to achieve.

After my diagnosis in 2010 I have thought I would just really enjoy Christmas, then everything I've done since then I have just tried to make the most of everything.

I am nervous about the marathon. It is going to take a huge amount of effort to get me round the track but I am more excited, I feel the expectations of everyone with MND on my shoulders and I want to do well for them.

– Mark Maddox

Doctors have warned the father of three that due to the effects of the disease on his body it means the chances of him completing the marathon are stacked against him.

But Mark has resolved that this will not stop him taking part to raise awareness and funds for the Association and said he is hoping to beat his Liverpool Marathon time and complete the 26.2 miles in around six hours.

Mark is a truly inspirational guy. He was the keynote speaker at our national staff conference this year when he left everyone laughing and crying in equal measure. I am lucky enough to have met him again with his family since then. They must be so proud of him and what he achieves both for himself and on behalf of the Association.

MND is a very cruel disease and we work hard to fight for the rights of people living with MND and their families and carers. We also fund raise through a network of branches and groups around the country to fund global research looking for the causes and ultimately, a cure for MND.

We have 135 people running in the London Marathon this year. It’s a huge challenge for anyone in the peak of health let alone coming to terms with such a devastating and progressive illness.

Anyone who knows Mark will know that the chances of him not crossing the line in London are pretty slim, such is his determination.

– Sally Light, Chief Executive of the Motor Neurone Disease Association
Mark 'Maddog' Maddox when he played for Altrincham FC. Credit: GR Photography

Chairman Grahame Rowley and everyone at Altrincham FC both past and present wish Mark all the best in his 'crazy' marathon challenge.

Mark has so many friends behind him supporting him all the way and many of those friends are at 'Alty'.

Keep fighting Mark and raising awareness for Motor Neurone Disease, you are a true Legend.

– Altrincham FC statement

Five people a day die in the UK from MND. It is a rapidly progressive and fatal disease that can affect any adult at any time.