| A KEEN athlete from Cantabria is set to run a whopping 8,000 kilometres across Spain to raise money for Alzheimer's.
José Antonio Santamaría, 39, from Castro Urdiales, set off today for Ambrosero and is expected to finish in eight months' time in Mioño (Cantabria), where he was born.
He will run 40 kilometres (25 miles) every morning along main N-roads, sleeping in centres run by the Spanish Confederation of Associations of Family Members of Alzheimer's Patients (CEAFA).
His mission is borne of personal tragedy, since his father-in-law was diagnosed with this debilitating brain disease five years ago and in order to provide the specialist treatment he needs, the bill will come to 3,000 euros.
“The way life is at the moment, it's beyond our reach, financially,” José Antonio admits.
During 'one of many nights of meditation', José Antonio – a fisherman by trade – decided he wanted to 'do something useful' and came up with the idea of running the length and breadth of Spain, islands included, and raise money for Alzheimer's patients in his region through sponsorship.
His trek will take in Asturias, Galicia, and Castilla y León before heading due south for Andalucía and from there, the Spanish-owned enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla on the Moroccan coast, and the Canary Islands.
Later on, he wil run the length of the Mediterranean coast, including all of the Balearic Islands, before zig-zaggin northwards back to Cantabria, where he will arrive sometime in December.
The brave son-in-law will be carrying the bare minimum of provisions in his rucksack and only just enough money for the trip - “so if I have to sleep on a park bench or go without food for a day, I shall do so gladly,” he adds.
José Antonio hopes to be able to meet the King and Queen and president whilst in Madrid, and is wearing a logo of his own design on his arm – an image of a hand grasping a brain and the slogan, 'Between us all, we'll squash Alzheimer's'.
He has set up a Facebook site so people can keep track of his progress and pledge sponsorship money.