The Yukon Ultra: Day 5 – “Just rest here for half an hour”

The Yukon Ultra: Day 5 – “Just rest here for half an hour”

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8th February

Following the directions he gave me, I reached it in darkness. The checkpoint itself was a local sports hall and the volunteers had comandeered one of the front rooms complete with sofas. Half of them were glued to their laptops watching the progress of the competitors online. If anything they looked more exhausted than me. If a stranger had walked into the room, they probably wouldn’t be able to tell who the runner was. I was offered either stew or cereal. I really didn’t want any more liquid food but the thought of eating breakfast food depressed me. The stew it was. As I ate, Diane gave me an update of the race so far. Only 4 athletes now remained and Iynatiyos and Rejean (the two guys behind me) had just arrived at Ken Lake. Filippo was 24 km ahead. She then began to go into detail about the blisters and groinal chafing she’d been dealing with thoughout the race which made me want to throw up into my nourishing stew.

Jo complimented me on my ‘cologne’ which I took as a subtle hint to use the showers in the changing rooms. It was a mixed blessing; the hot water felt great, but putting my filthy clothes back on was God-awful. By the time I came back to the meeting room, Robert had gone to sleep, as had Fabien who was suffering from a throat infection. I probably felt as sorry for them as they did for me. I went back to my sled and replaced the batteries in my GPS tracker, hoping they were the problem with the intermittent transmission. I was going through my usual routine of sled-repacking when Diane rushed out of the meeting room. ‘Filippo’s stopped!’ she cried, ‘he hasn’t moved for 40 minutes!’ I glanced outside through the entrance door and my look of apprehension wasn’t lost on her. ‘look, you’re wearing the Union Jack,’ she remarked, pointing at the patch on my arm.’ Get out there!’

Some Comforts

It was the kick I needed and in a few minutes I was back out on the trail. The sun was rising on a clear blue sky. The trail followed a road which contoured the hills so there was a lot of sweeping bends and a lot of change in elevation. There were also some incredible views. I didn’t stop until the trail left the road at the 24km point. This was where Filippo had stopped and I saw his muddled footprints where he’d camped and a yellow pee stain in the snow. It was the only time I’ve been glad to see a pee stain; it meant I was catching him back up. I was still in this race. It was already 2pm and there were maybe 3 hours of daylight left. All I could do was follow the trail but in doing so, that night would be the worst of my race. My right leg had been aching since Ken Lake and I had been regularly taking paracetamol to combat the pain. But that night the leg got worse, no matter how many rest stops I had, or how many paracetamol I took.

. It felt like a nail had been hammered into my shin. I lay there whimpering, waiting for the pain to subside. The biting wind tore through my two layers. I rolled onto my side into a fetal position to keep as warm as I could. Just rest here for half an hour, a little voice told me. It was so persuasive, it was like honey. But I also knew it was crazy. If I went to sleep like that I probably wouldn’t wake up. I scrabbled with my gloved hands trying to find my walking poles. My hands touched one, then the other and I dragged myself to my feet. Limping 200m, I found a decent place to set up my sleeping bag. It took a huge effort to drag it out of my sled and crawl into it.

Tim Williamson - Aug 13, 2012 | The Yukon Arctic Ultra
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