Paul Fosh from Monmouth will have to endure frostbite-threatening minus-30C (-22F) temperatures in the arduous 430-mile Yukon Arctic Ultra race in north west Canada, with just 13 days to finish the trek.
He’s no stranger to the Arctic Circle, having completed two previous races in the Yukon, including the Ultra 300-mile course in 2016, but this will be his longest yet.
The 52-year-old father-of-two, who runs Paul Fosh Auctions, said: “I love the challenge, both physical and mental but know that probably less than a quarter of those entering the race will complete it.”
Last year, because of the extreme conditions and the toll it takes on the body, only one person finished the 300-mile race.
And tragically, experienced ultra race athlete Roberto Zanda from Italy lost both his lower legs and his lower right arm due to catastrophic frostbite damage sustained during the race.
Property auctioneer Paul said: “Over time, you become thrilled to be part of the small percentage that have completed the race.
“I have invested a lot of time, effort and money to get myself out there and I want to do myself proud. I don’t ever want to fail at anything I do.”
All of the 441 entrants, 41 of them in the 430-mile race, are entirely self-sufficient and carry all their belongings, food, clothes, tent and other equipment on a sled called a pulk.
“A lot of people underestimate the mental challenge," says Paul.
“There are those of us that almost enjoy the pain, but if it was too easy there would be no pleasure at the end.”
He is aiming to finish within 10 days by averaging around 43 miles a day, and said: “I know my level of fitness is right to achieve this goal, I have been doing a lot of training for this one as it is the most demanding race I’ve ever done.
“Someone once told me to train hard and play easy. Admittedly, that was in the context of rugby, but I think it can apply to this too.”
Despite the 13-day time limit on the race, there will be very little time for sleep, which means that competitors will spend a lot of time walking both day and night.
“Walking in the daylight is much easier psychologically because you’ve got such fantastic scenery to look at.
“At night, you could be anywhere, you’ve just got your headtorch beam to follow.
“One of my biggest challenges is complacency." (01/30/2019) ⚡AMP
The Yukon Arctic Ultra is the world's coldest and toughest ultra!
Quite simply the world's coldest and toughest ultra. 430 miles of snow, ice, temperatures as low as -40°C and relentless wilderness, the YUA is an incredible undertaking. The Montane® Yukon Arctic Ultra (MYAU) follows the Yukon Quest trail, the trail of the world's toughest Sled Dog Race. Where dog...more...
Former professional tennis player Diane Van Deren was diagnosed with epilepsy in her 30s. For most people, this would not only end their career as a professional athlete, but also place major constraints on their daily routines and personal lives. That was not the case, however, for Van Deren. She not only persevered and ultimately found a way to get around her epileptic seizures – she did the extreme, opting to have a piece of her brain surgically removed to end her decade-long struggle with the disorder. After healing, Van Deren began running, trying her luck at a 50 mile race at age 42. Shortly thereafter, she ran her first 100-mile race and won it, right out of the gates. Since then, she has won the infamous Yukon Arctic Ultra
, a 430-mile ultra footrace pulling a 50-pound sled through temperatures below 50 degrees for eight days, and set a record for the 1,000-mile Mountains to Sea Trail, where she traversed the state of North Carolina in just over 22 days. She’s been a professional endurance athlete with The North Face for the past 16 years. Van Deren, 58, is a wealth of positivity despite some of the obstacles she’s faced, including at times losing her sense of time and direction as a result of the surgery. “Running was my outlet, my medicine, the way to create a safe place for me,” Van Deren says. “When you are trying to be a wife and a mom, and you don’t know when the next seizure is going to come, it’s living in constant fear of ‘When is the beast going to hit me?’ When that changes and you get your health back, how can you not be grateful? I don’t say ‘I can’t’ or ‘I’m afraid’ anymore, or ‘What if?’ Now the way I look at life is, ‘I can’ – I can do it, I can try. So that’s where the gratitude comes from. I’ve walked it, I’ve lived it, I’ve been in a horrific situation, and through the brain surgery I now have wealth. I have my health.” (05/10/2018) ⚡AMPInspirational Stories
The Montane Yukon Arctic Ultra is billed as the world’s coldest and toughest ultramarathon. When I signed up for the 2018 race, I expected the race to end like this. I travel across 100 miles of frozen, snow-packed trail through the Yukon wilderness, towing a sled loaded with everything I need to survive. I arrive, exhausted but elated, at the finish line; my friends greet me there with a cold beer. I kneel, pull down my frost-covered balaclava to kiss the finish-line banner, and can barely stand up again afterwards. I was in the best shape of my life; my winter-travel systems had been well and truly stress-tested. And I understood, now, why the racers I’d interviewed four years earlier kept coming back for more punishment, even if they hadn’t been able to articulate it to me then. I’d always have the memories of that giant moon swinging above me as I traveled up the frozen Takhini. But, had my frostbitten fingers not thwarted me, could I have finished? I still didn’t have the answer to my question, the riddle of the finish line and the failure.
I still don’t. The only way to find out, I suppose, is to try again. (03/16/2018) ⚡AMP
Romanian endurance athlete Tibi Useriu has “a commanding lead” in this year’s Arctic Ultra
, one of the toughest ultra-marathons in the world. Useriu won the Arctic Ultra in 2016 and 2017 and is now the only Romanian still competing in the race, after Avram Iancu, Polgar Levente, and Florentina Iofcea all had to drop out. “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." The race takes place in extremely harsh conditions, at temperatures ranging between -50 and -30 degrees Celsius. Throughout the nine editions of the race, only 32 participants made it to the finish line. The race started on March 9 in Yukon. It will end at Tuktoyaktuk, on the banks of the Arctic Ocean (03/12/2018) ⚡AMPEpic Running Adventures
The Yukon Arctic Ultra conditions sound like that of a frozen tundra nightmare in what could be the Canadian equivalent of the Barkley Marathons. Race director Robert Pollhammer posted on Facebook on Thursday that South African Jethro De Decker was the lone runner to make it to the finish line of the 300-miler (483K). Temperatures were at or below -40 for almost the entire week that the race went on. “It was a tough year, Many of the participants of the 300-miler, were taken off course and treated for frostbite and/or hypothermia at the hospital," says Robert. For sure this is the Coldest Ultramarathon
... (02/08/2018) ⚡AMPEpic Running Adventures