Prince Harry paid a surprise visit to a soldier who lost both legs in a bomb blast. Double amputee, Duncan Slater was training for the Marathon des Sables across the Sahara desert. Last year, he had to quit the marathon with just 35 miles remaining; his stubs were rubbed raw. He’s received a new pair of carbon fibre limbs which he hopes will make a huge difference in his performance this year as he runs for the charity Walking With the Wounded.
Duncan was in the middle of an acclimatisation session at the Institute for Naval Medicine located in Gosport when the Prince showed up. His training session was in 40 degrees C. temperatures. According to the Mirror, the humourous exchange between Prince Harry and Duncan went something like this.
Duncan when spotting The Prince: “****. How’s it going? Holy ****”.
Harry: “Don’t fall, don’t swear. How are you going? Alright?”
Harry also says: “Nice to see you. This is horrible.
“I wasn’t really in the neighbourhood, but I had to come and see you sweating your balls off on a treadmill in a sauna. You’re looking good.”
Duncan told the Mirror: “You don’t feel that you’re like disabled, you don’t feel like you’re the amputee, you don’t feel like the guy that’s getting stared at you’re just part of the crowd that’s trying to get across the desert that day and it makes you feel sort of a lot better about things.”
This is what Duncan and the other runners from around the world will face as they attempt to finish this race. The website for the marathon says this about the gruelling race:
“An Extraordinary Race For Extraordinary People In An Extraordinary Place.” During the week-long marathon which covers 156 miles, over 250kms, runners must carry their own supplies. Water is rationed, and if you use more, you are penalised. Other than the Communal goat’s-hair Berber tents are pitched, but everything else is left for the runner to take with them.
Those brave enough to take up this challenge will face endless dunes, rocky jebels, and will run across white-hot salt plains. “The sun will be your constant enemy with temperatures regularly reaching 50 centigrade. The sand will be your constant companion, clouds of it under your feet, sheets of it stinging your eyes and lots of it chafing where it shouldn’t. The long stage has become a legend in itself. You will run out of a Saharan morning, into the dusk and then the dark, many not finishing the 80+km (52 miles) till well into the next day. Your feet will swell, crack and bleed under the pressure and the heat. But none of this will matter when you cross the finishing line – a hero.”