A Selston man whose legs were badly injured by a bomb in Afghanistan has battled back to fighting fitness and come second in a marathon at the North Pole.
Luke Wigman, 27, stepped on an improvised explosive device (IED) while serving with the parachute regiment in 2011. He was in hospital for two months and underwent over a year of rehab.
Last week, he completed the 26.2 mile race across the Arctic ice floes where temperatures dropped as low as minus 40 degrees.
He said: “The conditions underfoot were bad. At some points you were knee-deep in snow. Towards the end just picking your legs up was hard work. It was really tough.”
He completed the marathon in five hours and three minutes, but was pipped to the post by Mike Wardian, a four-time USA ultra marathon winner.
Luke was commanding a group of Afghan soldiers in Sangin, in Helmand province, and was on a foot patrol when the IED caught him. He said: “I was the fourth man in the patrol. The first three stepped over it. It was missed by a metal detector. I had to do my own first aid on myself and organised my evacuation.”
Both legs were initially thought to be damaged beyond repair by surgeons in Birmingham, but the first operation went well and he started walking a few months later.
He said: “I was in hospital in two months. The main damage was done to my left lower leg and I lost a fair amount of flesh. I took shrapnel up my right side. For four weeks I couldn’t move my leg so I lost a lot of muscle. After that I had to learn how to walk again. I slowly got back into running. It took about 14 months to recover.
“Now I am going from strength to strength.”
Luke currently works part-time as an emergency care assistant with East Midlands Ambulance Service.
He said: “I used to do the odd race but it was never really competitive. Since my injury I have run in an aquathlon, two half distance triathlons, an Ironman triathlon, a few half marathons and 10K runs, and come second in the Mablethorpe Half Marathon.”
Brother Scott, 31, of Langley Mill said: “He started running and now he does about 100 mile a week. He has made the whole family proud. He has done marathons in Europe and North America and he wants to do all seven continents. He’s a real inspiration.”
Luke’s next plan is to run in a marathon around a live volcano in Chile!