Belfast Telegraph

I ran Donard 10 times in five days as a tribute to my dad

A man has pushed his body to its absolute limit after running up the highest peak in Northern Ireland 10 times in five days in memory of his late father.

David Simpson from Saintfield, Co Down, ascended and descended Slieve Donard twice every morning for five days at a total combined altitude of 8,500 metres last week - equivalent to climbing Everest.

The 36-year-old began the exhausting expedition in memory of his father Bobbie, also a runner, who died from motor neurone disease on June 3, 1991.

The disease is thought to be a genetic condition affecting the cells which control muscle activity including speaking, walking, breathing and swallowing.

According to Mr Simpson, it was "very tough" completing the five-day hike marking the 20th anniversary of his father's death.

"I think that it would be quite dangerous for someone to try this without the proper preparation. The food thing is really, really important as the mountain can be a very dangerous and isolated place. I was having to eat a lot of potatoes and rice, generally up the calories - putting up your portions and eating eggs and bread," he said.

It took the design technician a total of 14 hours to complete the 10 journeys up and down the popular hiking trail. "It's sort of damage limitation. I can't stress enough that this is a dangerous thing to do; the ascent is hard on the upper body and the cardiovascular system - the descent is damaging to the lower limbs," he said.

"By about the third day it was probably the most painful. During the last ascent my shin had given out but I held on. That's me content now, I've been there and done that."

Mr Simpson said his weight would drop half-a-stone by the end of each morning, but would shoot up again by the next.

His late father had previously won All-Ireland Gold for the Ballydrain Harriers running club in his 30s when David was a child.

Although Mr Simpson didn't raise money for the five-day challenge he said that he hoped to raise awareness for those affected by his late father's medical condition.

A keen runner, David plans to complete a run of the Seven Hills of Edinburgh this weekend, following up on his recent success during a half marathon in which he finished in second place.


  • David Simpson completed the five-day run between Friday June 3 and Tuesday June 7.
  • It involved 10 ascents and descents of Slieve Donard, running to the summit from Donard Car Park in Newcastle and back down.
  • His total running time was 13 hours and 56 minutes.
  • The total accumulated altitude was around 8,500m, and he had an average up and down time of 1 hour 23 minutes.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph