A man from Sheffield is taking on the Ice Ultra Marathon – a 150 mile extreme footrace through Arctic Sweden – in support of his mum who has lived with multiple sclerosis (MS) for almost 20 years.
Will Roberts will embark on his trek across snow fields, mountains and frozen lakes on 24 February. Running in snowshoes and in temperatures as low as -30 degrees, he is aiming to complete the challenge in five days and raise £2,000 for the MS Society.
The 35-year-old content producer was encouraged to run the marathon by local business Beyond the Ultimate who he was doing marketing work for. But Will only started running in the summer of 2015 and at the time, could only run 10km. He says he was shocked to be offered the opportunity:
“They told me they wanted to show that a novice could be trained to run one of these monster events in a year. I didn’t realise at first that they meant me! I signed up, but very quickly decided that this challenge wasn’t going to be all about me. The trek is my way of doing something positive for my mum and other families affected by MS.”
Will’s mum Bridget, who’s 73, was diagnosed with relapsing MS in 1999, but she started experiencing symptoms years before. MS is really unpredictable, and Bridget’s condition has since progressed. While she has lost the use of legs and has permanent numbness from her waist up to her chest, Will says she’s still a really happy person:
“Mum has lots of support, especially from my sister Helen who’s her primary carer. I visit every couple of weeks, and she’s still cracking a smile every time I see her. It’s meant a lot to me that she’s really taken an interest in my training. It’s been lovely – the challenge has really drawn us closer.”
MS is an unpredictable condition that affects more than 100,000 people in the UK. It’s different for everyone, but is often painful and exhausting and can cause problems with how you walk, move, see, think and feel.
Will does most of his training in the Peak District. He says being out in the National Park inspires him on:
“My father sadly passed away towards the end of last year, on the day I finished my second ultra-marathon. He was the one who took me into those hills a lot when I was younger. He taught me to love the peaks, and it’s like he’s training with me every time I’m out there.”
Beyond the Ultimate’s Race Director Kris King, 29, who is overseeing the training says he’s proud of what Will has managed to do so far: “Will was out of shape but I’d seen he had a sense of adventure and he’s thrived. He’s worked hard, lost 2 and a half stone and made amazing progress.”
Support Will at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/willbaldlygo or keep updated with his progress on Facebook.
Find more information about MS or the MS Society at www.mssociety.co.uk. The MS Society also has a free helpline – 0808 800 8000.