“I’ve only got an eye tumour. I felt like a fraud”, said a former Dundee bus driver as he took on the Cateran Yomp with just 25% vision in one of his eyes.
Now fully recovered, 51-year-old Ian Davidson is preparing to take on the gruelling challenge again.
And this time, it will be a family affair as he’s roped in his two sons, his brother and his girlfriend, who are all going for gold in the 54-mile trek.
Ian was working as a bus driver in Dundee when he was diagnosed with a tumour behind his right eye, at just 47-years-old.
“I was absolutely devastated”, he said.
Ian had been called in to the office first thing in the morning after acing a drivers’ assessment, feeling incredibly proud of his work.
“My boss called me in and was telling me: ‘Oh you’re a great driver, you’re a credit to the company’.
“That was about 10.30am. On the same day, the consultant phoned me up in the afternoon and said: ‘Mr Davidson, you shouldn’t be driving a bus as of now’.”
Not slowing down
Not wanting to be slowed down by the tumour, Ian recalled seeing adverts for the Yomp.
The aim of the Cateran Yomp is to trek 54 miles in 24 hours through the Scottish highlands to raise money for soldiers’ charity ABF.
There are three levels – gold at 54 miles, silver at 36 miles and bronze at 22 miles.
When he decided to go for his first Yomp in 2017, Ian recalled, “I couldn’t work, I was off for four months.”
“I didn’t know what I expected, but I twisted my knee going up Glenshee so only got to bronze.”
The experience was a brutal one for the Dundee dad, who said: “I was in tears but I thought to myself, this is for a good cause.
“I was seeing injured soldiers who had missing limbs and they were doing it and I thought ‘I’ve only got an eye tumour’. I felt like a fraud.”
Aiming for the gold
Not ready to give up the gold, Ian signed up just days later for the 2018 event, where he got his gold.
Around the same time, to keep fit, Ian started doing half marathons.
In the past four years, he has completed 15 half and one full marathons.
As his tumour grew, Ian knew he would soon be needing treatment, being left with just 25% of his eyesight in his right eye.
“It was coming up for the 2019 Yomp”, Ian said.
“I decided to push my treatment back a bit. It was meant to start before, but it would have meant being unable to do any physical exercise for the whole year after.
“So I did the 2019 Yomp and got my gold.
“On the Monday directly after finishing, I started 28 daily sessions of radiation treatment.”
Struck down with Covid
While the treatment was a success, bringing back 90% of his eyesight, Ian was unable to exercise for almost a whole year.
By the time he began to plan his return to the challenges, illness struck again, after he caught Covid.
Ian, who now works as a chef in a care home, said: “We have to do daily temperature checks every morning, and I was up at 37.7c.
“I got sent to the Royal Victoria Hospital to take a test on the Thursday.
“Friday morning I got my test results back, saying I had tested positive for Covid.
“By 11am on the Saturday morning, I was blue lighted to Ninewells.”
Ian spent three days on oxygen and steroids, but pulled through the ordeal.
He said: “The training, whether walking or running, has also helped build me up again after Covid.
“My motto is, there is always going to be someone worse off, so may as well just get on with it.
“Some people might call me stubborn but that’s what’s kept me going, and I’ve raised almost £2,000 for veterans and their solders in the process!”
You can donate to Ian here.