A PROUD mum from Ross-shire is “absolutely over the moon” after her son became the first double-amputee to complete a gruelling desert ultramarathon.
Hazel Slater, of Muir of Ord, said former RAF veteran Duncan Slater had undertaken the challenge to be an inspiration to others.
She said: “I don’t think of him as being disabled. It’s one the reasons he does these challenges, to show that there’s life after disability - that your life doesn’t come to an end because of them.”
Duncan was told by doctors in 2009 that he would never walk again after he was injured by a roadside bomb in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. He spent a year in a wheelchair before his damaged legs had to be amputated. But grit and determination came to the fore and within six months Mr Slater was doing well on his new prosthetic limbs. And now the former platoon sergeant has raised £20,000 for injured service personnel by completing the punishing Marathon des Sables at his second attempt.
Described as “the toughest footrace on Earth”, the six-day event covers 251km – roughly the length of six conventional marathons. Contestants have to be self-sufficient, carrying all their own food as they cross the sandy wastes of the Sahara Desert in Morocco in temperatures of up to 50 centigrade. Nights are spent in tents and water is rationed, with a time penalty if the ration is exceeded. Mr Slater (38), attempted the event last year but had to give up at the end of day four due to the damage done to his legs.
Echoing his mother’s comments, he hopes his efforts in completing the ultramarathon will “inspire other wounded, injured and sick people from the armed forces and beyond”.
And his feat has gained royal acclaim with Kensington Palace, the official residence of Prince William and his wife Kate, tweeting its congratulations, describing Mr Slater as a “huge inspiration”.
This latest challenge is not the only one Mr Slater has completed.
In 2011, around nine months after his legs had been amputated, he did the 800-mile Lands End to John O’Groats cycle ride, also in aid of injured service personnel.
And in December 2013 he was part of a group of 12 injured servicemen and women led by Prince Harry, which reached the South Pole after more than three arduous weeks pulling sleds across the frozen wastes of Antarctica.
Mr Slater, who now works for the charity Walking With The Wounded, returned home to Norfolk on Monday, where he lives with his wife Kim and daughter Lilly, aged seven.