AN animal charity has gathered a team of eager volunteers to run the first Malaga marathon.

MAPS, the Malaga Animal Protection Society, has taken 50 places at the December 6 event and is looking to fill the few slots still available.

But armchair sport aficionados should not be put off. There is the option to sign up for an eight-mile stretch as opposed to the full 26-mile slog.

The charity, which has RSPCA approval, is run by a group of ex-British army businessmen, and is raising funds to set up a centralised animal sanctuary in the region that will work with all the other animal charities already in existence.

They have earmarked a 250,000-euro plot of land near Torremolinos where abandoned cats, dogs and other pets will go, to be looked after or re-housed. But they still have ‘a long way to go’ on fundraising, according to a spokesman.

It is hoped that fielding a team for the marathon will spark interest and backing from within the Spanish community.

“Their attitudes about animal cruelty are changing and we don’t want MAPS to be exclusively ex-pat. One day we’d like to cover Spain, not just Malaga” the spokesman said

Other MAPS fundraisers in the offing are a regional football competition, involving all 800 schools, who will battle it out to win the Andalucian Cup.