To sign up to the Simplyhealth Great Aberdeen Run, visit greatrun.org/Aberdeen

Offshore worker Robbie Woods, from Forres, won't be lacking in motivation when he lines up for the start of the Simplyhealth Great Aberdeen Run.

The 28 year-old mechanical technician and his wife Kelly were devastated when their son Reo was born last November with Poland syndrome, a rare defect characterised by the absence of the chest muscle on one side of the youngster's body.

The couple were shocked by how little medical information or expertise about the condition was available to them either locally or indeed throughout the UK. Equally surprising was the fact that only one small family-run charity, PIP UK, was working to broaden awareness of the problem.

Kelly said: “We had never heard of Poland syndrome. Apart from being born without a chest muscle, Reo also has one hand and arm which is smaller than the other. There's also possible other related issues which we won't know about until he gets MRI scans and x-rays when he's older. His heart and lungs are in the right place but they are not 100% sure about his liver and kidneys. I must admit I struggled with all of this at the beginning. But we now want to do what we can so that anyone else who has a baby with this condition won't find it so daunting.

Robbie decided to start fund-raising on behalf of PIP by taking part in a sponsored run and persuaded 12 of his colleagues working on the BP ETAP rig in the North Sea to join him by signing up for the half marathon in Aberdeen on 27th August.

It will be the first race Robbie has ever tackled but he is following a detailed training plan and vows nothing is going to stop him from being as well prepared as possible.

He said: “I'm doing it for Reo and for other families who might find themselves in the position we are in. That's all the motivation I need. It's fantastic that so many other people from my rig have decided to join in as well. BP has indicated it will match the amount we raise so we hope that our total will be around £10,000. PIP operates on only around £500 to £600 a year so this is going to make a huge difference to them and the woman who runs the charity was over the moon when I told her.

”It's amazing how much interest there has been from everyone on the rig in what we are doing. It has had a real morale-boosting effect as everyone is rallying around either to take part in the run or by offering to sponsor us. It has been a real team-building exercise. The guys are training offshore in the gym then doing their running onshore and they are all enthusiastic.

“Having so many people involved has also helped me as it's easier to speak about Reo's condition with my work colleagues as we are all  doing the race for him and the charity.” 

Robbie admits he and Kelly are still coming to terms with the whole issue but they are committed to moving forward in a positive way.

He said: “It's still quite raw to be honest. The birth was quite traumatic for Kelly as she had an emergency section, then we were told about Reo's condition which was devastating. It is such a rare condition neither us nor any of our friends had heard about and there aren't any British specialists. Apparently Formula 1 racing champion Fernando Alonso has it and a few paralympians do as well, but it still doesn't have a high profile.

“Italy is the leading country for research into Poland syndrome so PIP is keen to find a way of sharing the expertise which has been developed there with people in this country. We want to do as much as we can to raise awareness of it and maybe help with more research into it. So hopefully the money we raise by doing the run will assist”

There's no doubt Robbie's emotional drive will ensure he has no lack of incentive for tackling the half marathon. He admits to being delighted with the progress he is making with his training.

He said: “I started my training plan three months ago and I'm sometimes doing four runs a week. My longest so far has been 7.5 miles but I'll be building up towards doing 13. I have lived all my days in Forres but I've been discovering little roads and paths which I never knew existed before I took up running. Sometimes I substitute a game of golf instead of a run or play a bit of football just to mix things up again.

“But I've no lack of personal incentive to get ready for the race because of Reo, so that makes it easy.” 

The first Simplyhealth Great Aberdeen Run takes place on Sunday 27th August 2017. It is the latest flagship mass participation event from the organisers of the Simplyhealth Great North Run, the world's biggest half marathon, held every year between Newcastle and South Shields.

The Simplyhealth Great Aberdeen Run is being delivered in partnership with Aberdeen City Council, Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce, VisitAberdeenshire, and Aberdeen Inspired. 

It features a 10km, half marathon, family mile and business challenge, so offers opportunities for runners of all ages and levels of ability and experience. All the runs will start and finish on Union Street and the routes take in many of the city's key historic landmarks such as Marischal College, Castlegate, the Beach Ballroom and Brig O'Balgownie. 

To sign up to the Simplyhealth Great Aberdeen Run, visit greatrun.org/Aberdeen