The Yukon Ultra: Day 7 – Yeah…he’s pretty spaced out!

The Yukon Ultra: Day 7 – Yeah…he’s pretty spaced out!

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10th February

I wasn’t thinking about that. I just wanted to sleep I was so exhausted. Robert and Thomas obviously had the same thoughts and we all got in our sleeping bags for a few hours sleep. 4 hours later I staggered upright at 3.30am and began to pack up my sled once more. I felt awful; I was hungry yet nauseous at the same time. I ate an oreo from a pack left on the table. Big mistake. After waking Robert to let him know I was heading out, I headed to the toilet where I threw up. Robert, the race director, heard it all from the other side of the door. That was a low point. When I emerged he asked me if I was ok; he genuinely looked concerned, especially when I asked for the painkillers Diane had left for me.

Between us we carried my sled outside and he led me down to the river which I would follow all the way to Pelly Farm. ‘There’s a signpost a mile away from the farm,’ Robert told me. ‘You can’t miss it.’ He wished me luck and we headed off in opposite directions. That’s when I found the first message Filippo had left in the snow. It was written with a gloved hand in Italian making it impossible for me to read. In the light of my head torch I could make out a lot of exclamation marks. I couldn’t believe he had the energy to do that. Surely he must know I’d never be able to read it? I took the remaining painkillers Rebecca had given me plus a couple from Diane for good measure. The river didn’t start out as flat as I had hoped. Pressure ridges had formed from the huge forces of ice blocks pushing against each other. It took brute force to push through them. By the time the sun began to rise, the ridges had flattened out. But the sunlight had also brought bad news. In the dark, I had taken off my insulated outer gloves because my hands were sweating from sheer exertion. I had tied them to my harness. Or at least I thought I had. In the daylight I could now see they were gone. Somewhere back down the trail my gloves were lying in the snow. The Yukon is no place to lose your gloves and I was a bit worried that I only had my back-up lightweight pair left.

Resting Up

‘It’s ok,’ I told myself, ‘Gary will pass thorugh this way on his snowmobile and he’ll see my gloves and hand them over when he overtakes me.’ I took a break and had a coffee from my thermos to collect my thoughts. The mixture of painkillers I took were having a greater effect than I thought. They were screwing with my head. I made a mental note not to touch them again unless the pain in my leg became unbearable. I needed to focus and they were clouding my thoughts. It couldn’t have been more than 2 hours and 8km later when Gary rocked up on his snowmobile. ‘I got you these from the store!’ he shouted and produced my gloves from his luggage box. I could have cried. He had even more good news. Since the last checkpoint I had covered 27 km. I was almost halfway to Pelly Farm already. Gary sped off to Pelly Farm to meet Diane. Asking him how I was doing, he would later reply to her, ‘yeah…he’s pretty spaced out!’

The river meandered on itself like a coiled snake. It was brilliant sunshine the whole way but my progress was hampered by the powdery snow. I would take a step only to drop 6 inches on to hard ice underneath. And each impact did more damage to my leg. Even so, I arrived at Pelly Farm sooner than expected and Diane was there to greet me. I arrived so soon,she said she hadn’t had time to put the lasagne on. Walking in to that place made me feel like I was arriving back home. The couple who lived there were called Dale and Sue and they were two of the nicest people I’ve ever met. As I ate the lasagne, I found out Filippo had already finished the race. I was really happy for him, especially when I was told he could only eat bread for the last part of the race due to stomach problems. He hugely deserved the win, an awe inspiring achievement. The two guys behind me had now just left Pelly Crossing so Robert and Jo arrived at the farm as I cradled my third cup of coffee in my hands. They both wanted to walk the distance between Pelly Farm and the finish line back at Pelly Crossing.

Jo wrote a blog about this little adventure which can be found here:

Meanwhile Dale handed me the guestbook to sign. I flicked through and read the names of the competitors in past races who had made it this far. My eyes stopped at James Cracknell. Yes, that’s Olympian legend James Cracknell. I wrote my own little note before Sue directed me to a kid’s bedroom complete with bunkbeds. The pair took in foster kids from broken homes and gave them a second chance out on the farm. Could these people be any nicer? I lay down on the bottom bunk. It was heaven.


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