An eventful few days…
Race Report as at 16.42 North West Territories Time, Canada
It has been an eventful few days, that combined with precious little internet coverage has meant reports have been delayed. This report should bring you bang up to date.
Following a beautiful day through to CP1 at the Arctic Circle, our racers were faced with the infamous Wright Pass (see earlier video post for a calm day at the pass). The Pass lived up to its reputation and some.
During the early hours and morning of Friday a storm swept on to the southern side of the pass with winds gusting to 90 KMPH and snow drifting across a 6km stretch of road. The Highways Authority made the decision to close the road as some of our runners we making their way up and through the pass. 5 runners made it through the pass under their own steam before we made the decision to hault the progression of the remaining runners before Wright Pass. The remaining runners then embarked on laps of an area unaffected by the storm. This meant that they could complete some of the required miles whilst waiting for the storm to pass.
The 5 runners who made it through to James Creek, including the race leader Tibi, we all able to continue the race under normal conditions.
The remainder had to wait until the Highways Authority (as always brilliant) had ploughed just enough of the road for the crew vehicles to transport everyone safely through the storm to James Creek. The road was promptly re-closed and remained so for the rest of that day and night.
The runners who had been moved forward during this period were briefed that they would have to make up the Kilometres on route with most of them doing so by competing extra laps of the Dempster Highway before resting at the Fort McPherson checkpoint.
During the storm period, two competitors were required to retire for safety reasons. It is worth noting that just turning up to the start line of this race is an achievement. Racers are faced with some of the most extreme and punishing conditions on the planet. In both cases here it was those conditions that got the better of two outstanding athletes.
With everyone safely through the race was back on with the remaining competitors focused on reaching Fort McPherson. A very cold night awaited those on the road with some opting to bivvy down and others push on.
Fort McPherson is the finish line for the exceptionally tough 120 mile race. Rob Evans was first across the line. The first Welshman to take the title in the races history. Kevin Webber came an outstanding second. The remaining 120 mile runners were beaten by the clock and not helped by the extreme weather conditions.
The remaining 380 mile runners are now on the new section of the race. This is the absolutely stunning ice road between Fort McPherson and Aklavik. The road does not take lorries and we see little to no traffic on the road. This provides us with perfect conditions for the race with this stretch covering approximately 152 km. As this report is written, Tibi Useriu previous champion and all round legend, has a commanding lead on the ice road having passed through Mid Peel River check point and well on his way to Aklavik. His is pursued closely by Patrick O’Toole who is showing tremendous determination, stamina and good humour in his first attempt at the race. Both are chased by the following 380 runners (not in race order) still on the race: Paul Deasy, Pete Newland, Jerome Libecki, Mark Strathern, Ian Anderson, Hugh Morris, Tom Restoule, Marie Martel, Jennifer Stronge and Tony Ellis.
Once all have passed through the Mid Peel River check point (CP4) we will issue a full race update with times and positions.
We are also pleased to report that all retired competitors are fit and well and have now joined the crew to follow the race or are heading home.
More to follow, stay tuned!