Press Release by Tara Vallente
17 JUNE 2015
BROTHERS TAKE ON BRUTAL CHALLENGES FOR MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS RESEARCH
400 people are making final preparations to walk over ten Lake District mountains in ten hours to raise money for multiple sclerosis research in the 10in10 challenge next week.
But while they head for a walk in the hills on Saturday 27 June, one man is preparing to run over 26 mountains in ten hours – weaving three different 10in10 routes together – because his brother has the disease.
And the man who has multiple sclerosis has just returned from his own gruelling mountain challenge climbing four multi pitch routes in the Dolomites in Italy.
44 year old Duncan Booth is the brother who lives with multiple sclerosis and whose diagnosis led to the creation of the 10in10 mountain challenge.
But it’s Duncan’s big brother Simon, 47, who is going to attempt to run all three 10in10 routes (Buttermere, Borrowdale and Newlands) back to back in the same time the walkers complete this year’s 10in10 route.
To be fair, Simon is one of the best fell runners in Britain (champion in both 2002 and 2005) and he usually flies past the walkers as they plough around the 10in10 route. He has won the Borrowdale Fell Race more than anyone else – 12 times – and has competed in what he calls his ‘favourite fell race’ 21 times.
Even for him, this day on the fells will be a real challenge. He will be running from the Swinside Inn in the opposite direction to the walkers up Causey Pike, Sail, Crag Hill, Wandhope and Whiteless Pike before descending into Buttermere. There he will head up Dodd, Red Pike, High Stile, High Crag, Seat, Haystacks, Grey Knotts, Brandreth, Green Gable, Seathwaite Fell, Allen Crags, Glaramara and Thorneythwaite Fell before another descent into Rosthwaite. Next will be a climb up to Castle Crag, Maiden Moor, High Spy, Dale Head, Hindscarth, Robinson, Snock Rigg and Newlands Hause before arriving back at the Swinside Inn.
Simon, who lives in Deanscales with his wife Sue and daughters Issie, 5, and three-year old twins Maisie and Ellie, represented England four times and Britain twice and has won all of the major Lakeland Fell Races – some of them many times. He has completed the Three Peaks Race three times – winning twice and coming second once.
He explained why he is taking on this big challenge – rather than just run the 10in10 like he has for the past few years, he said: “I used to have running heroes, like Billy Bland and Kenny Stuart, they used to inspire me and in individual races I think I have achieved what they achieved and I’ve done what I wanted to do. Now Duncan is my hero. What keeps me going is seeing what he is doing. It’s not very nice because I can see he struggles a lot and he probably has more symptoms than he says he has. I can’t imagine what he is going through. He never moans about it and we don’t talk about it. He’s got a really positive attitude and he is always excited about something. I can’t help but be motivated by that.
“On the morning of the 10in10 I will set off at 8am and aim to get around the three routes in ten hours. It will be a real test for me, the longest run I have ever done took six hours and that was 68km in Annecy, in France, but it wasn’t as much climbing. I’m going to cover about 37 miles and climb 17,000 feet of ascent and I am hoping to enjoy it!”
The annual 10in10 challenge was designed and created by Duncan’s wife Yvonne, as her response to his diagnosis with the disease in 2010. Every year since 2011, hundreds of people walk over ten mountains in ten hours and the route rotates between three different groups of ten fells near Keswick. Each year, Duncan puts himself through some form of physical torture – like sculling up and down Derwentwater lake all night or swimming ten lakes in ten hours. The couple, are proud that the people who have taken part in the challenge have helped them raise £107,000.
Yvonne said: “Duncan’s diagnosis was extremely difficult to accept. Multiple Sclerosis is a devastating neurological disease and it has changed our lives forever. I was desperate to make him better at first as our youngest son Jude had just been born and our other sons Leo and Xander were two and six and we wanted to share our passion for the outdoors with them. Duncan was a top class rock climber and alpinist and we enjoyed endless days of running around the fells together. It didn’t seem fair.
“But, after a desperately sad six months, our spirits were lifted by the support from our local community in Keswick and we decided that while we might not be able to cure MS, we could help raise money for research into one. We’re delighted to have the ongoing support of Sir Chris Bonington who has walked the 5in5 with his Berghaus Team – much to the delight of the other participants!”
Speaking about his recent adventure in the Dolomites, Duncan explained why the climbing is the easy bit, and why he wont do it again, he said: “The climbing’s easy, I balance better on rock using my arms and legs than I do standing up on my own feet, I’ve got four points of contact rather than two. I’m still very strong, it’s just my legs used to work and now they don’t work. I’m still very confident. I’m just not as good a climber as I was. I climbed numerous E7s, with first ascents of about ten routes, I climbed E8 once and could climb up to 8a on sports routes and now I’m doing Severe climbs. The challenge in Italy was getting to the rock face and then getting back down, that took a long time.
“We climbed four six pitch routes, did one 500 metre via ferrata and I did quite a lot of riding around on my electric bike – which was fun.
“On reflection, in order to stay alive as long as possible, it’s time for me to call an end to me leading routes as it is just too dangerous. It was great fun being away, a nice change of scenery, my climbing partner Sean Day made me laugh my head off almost continually. But, I noticed new symptoms – brain fog, or cognitive dysfunction – is something I haven’t noticed before.
“This year’s challenge was, without doubt the hardest yet. I’m happy to have done it and looking forward to a beautiful day on the 27th June for this year’s 10in10 with 400 people undertaking their own challenge, some with MS, others without, some walking it twice back to back. I’d love to see good running conditions to see how my brother manages on his attempt to run three courses in under 10 hours.
“I am a positive person, but I’d like a year as I used to be. To be honest if I could just have an hour…. Most people do a sport and at 40 they’re pretty good at it and they slowly go downhill. I got to 40 and went downhill overnight.”
So what made these two boys so mentally and physically strong and determined in the face of adversity? They said their mum Denise is responsible for their stoicism but the athleticism comes from their dad, Bill Booth. Simon said: “We’re out of a good machine! He’d do things like spray a bolt golden and leave it on top of Grizedale Pike. Then he’d tell us to run up and get it, with the promise of a fiver between us once we’d got it. He didn’t come with us, we were about seven and ten years old, in fact I think he dropped us off in Braithwaite and then went off to work.”
“It was different then,” said Duncan, “You probably couldn’t let your kids do it now. Like running the Cockermouth marathon. Simon won it and was in the paper with dad with a big silver shield grinning. I think he was 14. I was 11 and the youngest kid entered and who finished. Though by the time I got to the finish everyone had gone home because I’d had a right meltdown half way round and couldn’t be bothered to run any more. The daft thing was, I did complete the full marathon because I had to get all the way back.”
Asked what was the secret to being a good fell runner, Simon said: “Practice. I have a good technique which involves letting yourself go rather than braking for running in the mountains and even if I am last to the top, I can overtake loads of people on the way down.”
They’re both hoping for a fine day on Saturday 27 June as the 400 walkers set off to climb ten mountains in ten hours while Simon heads off to conquer 25 peaks in the same time.
Entries close on Sunday 21 June at http://www.10in10.org.uk
To help Simon reach his target of raising £1,000 for MS – go to: https://www.justgiving.com/Duncan-Booth6
NOTES TO EDITORS:
- Issued by Tara Vallente PR & Media, telephone 017687 80051 or 07917 202 999.
- To speak to Duncan, Simon or Yvonne Booth, or to arrange to take photographs, telephone 017687 72820 or 07810 522 889.
- Short film footage of Duncan riding his electric bike alongside Simon and Bill Booth jogging is available. Please contact Tara.
- High quality images of the route and views from the ten peaks are available from Yvonne.