A DETERMINED dad is getting set to run five half marathons in a year to raise £5,000 to thank the charities that saved his son.

Keith Mitchell, 49, from Witham, never even owned a pair of running shoes before deciding to take on the challenge, which will also mark his 50th birthday.

Keith will kick-start the fundraiser on March 1 at the Vitality Big Half in London.

Five-year-old son Aiden suffers from oxygen deprivation to the brain and cerebral palsy after complications when he was born.

Keith said: “When Aiden was born he was taken to the intensive care unit to try and reduce his body temperature to try and protect him from brain damage.

“The cooling therapy was only possible thanks to research funded by Action Medical Research.

“The charity really holds a special place in our hearts and so we’re starting this challenge with the aim of raising £500 for them.”

Action Medical Research is a children’s charity which has been funding medical breakthroughs since 1952 for children suffering from devastating illnesses.

Keith also wanted to challenge himself ahead of his landmark birthday this month.

He said: “As this year was a bit of a milestone for me, I wanted to set myself a new challenge.

“I’ve got a point to prove to myself and my son.

“I’m always trying to think of fundraising ideas and now that I actually own a pair of running trainers I wanted to put them to good use.

“I’m not a natural runner. I’d go as far to say that up until last year I’d never owned a pair of running shoes.

“But this year is going to be different.”

Last year Keith took on the Great North Run to for his first half marathon.

He said: “I had intentionally held off training until 12 weeks before.

“You’ve heard of ‘couch to 5K’. I wanted to do ‘couch to half marathon’ to prove to Aiden that you can do anything you want if you just set your mind to it.

“Exhausted doesn’t even begin to describe how I was feeling towards the end.

“But tired as I was, seeing him with my wife Fleur at the finish line was all the inspiration I needed.

“The race officials even let me carry Aiden over the line with me.

“I cried. It was such an emotional experience.”

Keith is hoping to complete all five half marathons by September and raise £5,000 for good causes including Aiden’s own charity – Amazing Aiden.

Keith will be joined by eldest son Keiran, 23, and friends Alan and Angela Ward.

The team will also take on the Brentwood Half Marathon, Edinburgh Marathon Festival Team Relay and the Great North Run.

n To donate, search for 'Running 4actionat50' on justgiving.com.