Duncan keeps racing despite brain tumour

Duncan at the foot of one of the six classic north face routes of the Alps
Duncan at the foot of one of the six classic north face routes of the Alps

An Aboyne man is defying a brain tumour to compete in some of Scotland’s toughest hill races.

Duncan Tunstall, 54, was diagnosed in 2001 after experiencing seizures and occasional visual problems.

Although the tumour was initially non-malignant, doctors warned him it would become cancerous - and told him he would be lucky to survive for five years. Surgeons could not remove it because of its location.

Fifteen years on, the tumour is now classed as grade 3 – one stage before the most aggressively malignant grade 4 - but Duncan, who formerly worked on the financial side of oil exploration and production, is still pursuing twin passions of climbing and hill racing.

This summer he scaled one of the six north faces of the Alps and took part in several challenging Scottish races, including the Ring of Steall SkyRace and the Pentland Skyline.

Duncan, who moved to Aboyne from London with wife Jacqueline after his diagnosis, also goes out regularly to prepare climbing routes so others can tackle the ascents more easily - a process known as ‘cleaning’ a climb.

He is helping to run a climbing club in Aboyne to encourage others of all ages to get involved in the sport.

Duncan said: “As long as I’m not fussed about where I finish, I can generally finish races safely and enjoyably.

“I really want to help other people like me to get out there and be more active.”

Duncan has worked alongside The Brain Tumour Charity to share his experiences and the organisation describes him as an inspiration to others.

Sarah Lindsell, chief executive of The Brain Tumour Charity, said: “Duncan’s determination to carry on doing what he loves despite his diagnosis is a real inspiration.

“By sharing his story and encouraging others diagnosed with a brain tumour to think about what might be possible for them – even if it isn’t hill running - he will bring hope to many of those we support.”