Walking With the Wounded South Pole race, involving Diss’ Duncan Slater, called off

Duncan Slater training at a boot camp at Stody Hall Barns before leaving for the South Pole. Picture: Matthew Usher. Duncan Slater training at a boot camp at Stody Hall Barns before leaving for the South Pole. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Sunday, December 8, 2013
1:37 PM

The competitive element of a race to the South Pole involving Prince Harry has been called off because of safety concerns.

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Team UK, which is made up of the prince and four injured British soldiers including Duncan Slater who lives in Diss, embarked on the Walking With the Wounded expedition on 1 December.

Sgt Slater was told by doctors that he would never walk again after being injured by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan where he served with the RAF

Regiment.

After his injury in 2009, Sgt Slater spent a year in a wheelchair before doctors told him he would need to have his legs amputated.

However, within six weeks he was making strides on his new prosthetic limbs and began training for the 209-mile challenge at the beginning of this year.

The group had ben due to race teams from Canada and the US, but will now continue to the South Pole as one group.

Expedition director Ed Parker said he had suspended the competitive element because of the “difficult terrain”.

Mr Parker said that the teams had had a “tricky couple of days”.

“The weather remains good but the terrain is very difficult, far harder than we were anticipating,” he wrote on the charity’s website.

“The reasons for this are entirely safety based. I am looking at the three teams. They are going really well but people are beginning to get very, very tired.

“With our doctor here, who I am in constant contact with, we just feel we are beginning to push people a little too hard, so I have suspended the race.”

The team will embark on the final leg of the challenge from the second allotted checkpoint, 70 miles from the South Pole, today (Sunday).

Over the course of the next seven days they will travel together to reach the South Pole.

Speaking before he left, Sgt Slater said: “I volunteered to do this to show what amputees can do. It would be great to see more and more amputees reach the pole.

“Hopefully I won’t be the last, and if I get there and find out an easier way of doing it, then other people can follow in my footsteps and do it as well.”

Walking With the Wounded funds the re-training and re-education of wounded servicemen and women to help them find long-term employment after they have left the forces.

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