Man with MS conquers Inca Trail to defy doctors

Brave Paul, who has multiple sclerosis, at the end of the Inca Trail, a 126-kilometre mountain trek, in Peru.
Brave Paul, who has multiple sclerosis, at the end of the Inca Trail, a 126-kilometre mountain trek, in Peru.

A Mansfield man who collapsed while running the line during a football match has defied doctors by completing a 126-kilometre mountain trek to 14,000 feet.

Paul Allum, of Dunsil Road, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) after blacking out at the match and being rushed to hospital 12 years ago. He was even told by doctors that he was unlikely to live past the age of 40.

But on reaching that age, he completed a triathlon to raise money for the MS Society. And now, at 43, he has conquered the formidable Inca Trail in Peru in a bid to raise a further £2,000 for the charity.

“It was an exhausting experience, but totally exhilarating, and one that I will never forget,” said Paul, a business manager at Fogg Travel Insurance in Mansfield. “Some of the views and scenery had to be seen to be believed.

“There were some hairy moments, such as walking with sheer drops either side of you and camping on the edges of cliff faces. And it wasn’t the most hygienic of environments. But it was worth the effort, and I’m delighted to be helping such a worthy cause.”

Paul, who began his challenge after four days of altitude acclimatisation, added: “In preparation, I had also done plenty of outdoor walking around Mansfield, and on a treadmill. But it was still extremely tough on the body, with the reduced levels of oxygen and also the fact that I needed to take daily medication for my MS.”

Paul, who carried his clothes and other essentials in a 25kg rucksack, took up the four-day challenge with 15 other trekkers who were all assisted by two guides and a team of porters.

That number soon dwindled to 11 as some dropped out through exhaustion or altitude sickness. But Paul bravely soldiered on.

He added: “We were up at 3.40 am some days in order to cover the distance, and it was agony at times. But I’d saved a whisky for the end and it was a nice way to toast an emotional moment.

“My message is to never let anyone say you can’t do something. You can do almost anything if you put your mind to it, as I have tried to prove.”