The Yukon Ultra: Day 8 – The Finish Line

The Yukon Ultra: Day 8 – The Finish Line

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11th February

The next thing I knew my alarm clock was going off. 2.30am. I wrestled with myself over whether to have an extra hour or not. My masochistic side won out and I got up and went into the living room. Sue woke up on the sofa. She had stayed up for me, knowing I’d be leaving crazy early. Immediately she set to work in the kitchen, asking me rapid fire questions to which I numbly replied ‘yes thanks’ to each one. I sat at the table to put my shoes on when a plate of pancakes and bacon was put in front of me. ‘Can’t let you go on an empty stomach’ Sue said. It was something my mum would say and for the first time in the race I thought about home. When did I last spend any decent time at home? I couldn’t remember. I snapped back to the present when a tired-looking Diane came in. She handed me a few tylenols to help with the pain and a few minutes later, full on pancakes, I left the farm with Sue who pointed me onto the right path. I turned to say goodbye and she gave me a big hug. There were a couple of tears rolling down her cheeks which I put down to the freezing wind.

The tylenol had no effect on my leg and within a few miles I ground to a halt. If I was going to carry on I had to do something drastic. I searched through my sled to find something, anything to support my leg. I ended up wrapping my foam bedroll around my shin, tying it off with a spare shoelace. It still didn’t provide enough support so I stuck a small branch down it and that did the trick. I looked ridiculous but I was about 200 miles past caring. The trail followed a forest lane which Dale called his 30 mile driveway. It headed north for a good few miles before creeping back southeast towards the finish line at Pelly Crossing. I was on the outskirts of Pelly Crossing when I got lost. You can’t make this up! I came to a crossroads and had no idea which direction to take. After a few minutes of standing there scratching my head, I took what turned out to be the wrong turn and headed on for 200m, until I realised it wasn’t worth me wasting my energy wandering aimlessly. I hadn’t eaten since the early hours when I finished off the last bag of rolos (Karl, I owe you a pint!) and a couple of energy bars.

The Splint

Since I was standing around getting cold anyway, I decided to light my stove and have a hot meal. Doing this gave my mind something to focus on instead of getting frustrated and angry with myself. No sooner had I got my rice/noodle concoction boiling than I heard the familiar sound of Glen’s snowmobile.The guys at race control had been watching me online and sent Glen out to see why I wasn’t moving. I had always been happy to see one of the trail guides but none of those moments compared to this one. We had a quick conversation as I ate my ruined rice/noodle creation. I asked Glen if he wanted some. He diplomatically declined. Minutes later, Spencer rocked up and they gave me directions to the checkpoint. Just 100m from the finish line, I had to descend a slope to a river. I decided to toboggan down it on my sled which deposited me into a huge snowdrift at the bottom. Gary found me laughing my head off covered in snow and I had to explain what happened.

The Finish Line Welcome

All the volunteers were gathered at the finish line. There was a lot of clapping and handshaking and posing for photos. Robert gave me my finisher’s medal. Even before it was all over I knew I was going to miss it. Not just the race but the people who ran it, who organised it, who volunteered in it. I’ve never met such a high-spirited bunch. I’m grateful I was able to be a part of it.

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