Image shows Julia and her friends at the 10 in 10 challenge

Why I’m researching – and hiking – to stop MS

This year, one of our researchers, Dr Julia Edgar, took on the 10in10 challenge – hiking up 10 peaks in the Lake District in 10 hours. Julia explains what inspired her to get involved.

Growing up in Scotland, where MS affects around one in 500 people, it was the first neurological condition I was aware of. A family friend had what I now know to be secondary progressive MS.

My MS research

I’m a neuroscientist with a particular interest in the role of myelin in the central nervous system. I work at the University of Glasgow, where I carry out research and teach students about the structure and function of myelin and the cells that produce it.

Our research aims to understand how the oligodendrocyte (the cell that produces myelin) helps maintain the health of axons (the wires that connect nerve cells to each other).

Deciding to take on the 10in10

Yvonne and Duncan Booth, who organise the 10in10, were the inspiration behind me signing up. They visited my lab to hear about our research after selecting my project to receive the funding raised from earlier 10in10 events.

Their warmth, enthusiasm and vitality meant that I didn’t think twice when they suggested I join the 10in10. And my three oldest school friends didn’t take much persuading when I asked them to join me.

Ups and downs

The 10in10 is a 17 mile hike (21 miles in our case as we took a wrong turn!) up and over 10 peaks in 10 (13 in our case!) hours.

It’s hard work. It’s less than enjoyable in places. It’s windy at times. It induced pain in the knees at times. It almost destroyed years-long friendships… But when we struggled, we remembered what Yvonne and Duncan told us – that living with MS is a struggle every day!

Oh and the volunteers at the start, finish and at the top of every single peak kept us going with words of encouragement and excellent home-made cake.

Why we’ll be back next year

We all felt very, very tired afterwards. So tired that we had dinner then went straight back to our lovely bed and breakfast and fell asleep almost instantly.

But next morning we woke up in the beautiful Lake District having had a great night’s sleep and feeling very glad we’d done it – despite being almost the last team to the finish line!

At least two of the four of us are doing it again next year.

> Sign up to the 10in10