Wheelchair users in Arthur’s Seat half-marathon

Wheelchair marathons need dedication and fitness to complete. Picture: contributed
Wheelchair marathons need dedication and fitness to complete. Picture: contributed
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A WHEELCHAIR race is set to end on a real high – with its finish line on top of Arthur’s Seat.

A team of runners will lead their wheelchair-bound captains in a half-marathon tomorrow, culminating in a climb to the 250-metre summit.

Competitors will set off from the Pentland Hills, travelling 13 miles past various city landmarks before reaching their lofty destination.

They will power their way up the slope in specially designed off-road chairs – with support ropes and pulleys for its trickiest terrain – to raise awareness for disability charity Capability Scotland.

Support worker Grant Duff, based at the New Trinity ­Centre in Craigentinny, is running with wheelchair user Thomas Richardson.

The 43-year-old, who helps provide education, physio, computing and art classes at the centre, said he will be spurred on by the thought of giving Thomas a different view of the city. He said: “Thomas knows his way around Arthur’s Seat but he’s never been to the top.

“It’s an amazing experience for a wheelchair user to get to the top of a mountain, just to see different views. It’s also great to see some of the achievements that people with limited ­mobility are actually ­capable of.”

Mr Duff has worked with Thomas, 38, on previous ­fundraisers, including the Speed of Light around Arthur’s Seat last year.

Thomas has difficulties speaking but Grant said it was clear he loved a challenge.

He said: “We were involved in the Speed of Light event before with runners and wheelchair users in light suits. It took up the whole of the park and was a massive event.

“Thomas can be difficult to understand due to his limited communication but when he sees the chair, you can just see the positivity and the ­excitement. There’s a big smile and he’s really positive about what he can achieve.

“I’m into hillwalking, mountaineering and general fitness but, that said, the task of ­assisting someone to go up Arthur’s Seat is still such a big challenge.”

Teams from across the country will take part in the event, and are expected to reach the city centre by noon.

They aim to have completed the climb by 2pm with family and friends to cheer them to the top and are hopeful the rainy forecast will not affect the ­public turnout.

Mr Duff added: “I think if you can imagine someone ­sitting, with limited mobility, in bad weather then we will ­definitely have to generate some team spirit.”

Capability Scotland campaigns with, and provides education, employment and care services for, disabled children and adults across Scotland.

Margaret Cliff McNulty, head of fundraising at Capability Scotland, said she was delighted by the support.

“We hope that the marathon will not only be successful in generating much-needed funds but also inspirational in highlighting what can be achieved when disabled people have access to the great outdoors.”