Following on from a very enjoyable experience at the Yukon Arctic Ultra last year I thought I’d have another go at an arctic race to see if I really did like playing around in the snow. I looked at a few others – Snow & Ice, Black Baikal but decided on Rovaniemi 300 as it fitted with my price range, was fairly easy to get to and I’d never been to Scandinavia. Ideally, I wanted longer than the 300 miles of the Yukon but the 300km proved plenty.
So after a few days sightseeing, shopping, packing, re-packing, briefings and acclimatising in Rovaniemi with my good friend “Mr Ultra Magazine” Andy Nuttall there we were, sat in the living room of our Airbnb apartment filing, taping and “lubing” our feet before starting our ten minute walk through town to the control room where we would then walk down to the start line on the frozen river. Race starts are always fun but are made even more exciting when you can perve on all the fancy winter gear, the fat bikes, the sleds, oogling what systems people had opted for, what hauling systems, ropes or poles, snow shoes or normal shoes, back packs with hydration bladders or something else. It’s very easy to get sucked into all of what’s going on around you and lose track of your own self analysis and before I knew it I’d lost the feeling in my fingers and had to dig my mitts out of my sled. The same thing had happened in the Yukon the year before.
After a quick countdown we were off. Fat bikers and 66km racers at the front followed by a mix of 150km and 300km racers behind, some on ski’s, some on foot and some on Fat bikes. I noticed the only other Rovaniemi 300 racer who hadn’t done any of the other Rov races flying off into the distance at a very quick rate. I settled into a quick power hike and watched the field thin out. I had left Andy behind me at the start line but had been joined by Ryan Wood (who I knew from Facebook and a few beers the night before) and Pete Summers who I had met at the airport and then at the start line. We stayed together chatting about the race, kit, strategies etc until CP 1 at around 11km. The 150 and 66 racers had to cut off from the river and walk about 100 metres to the checkpoint which was little more than a small wooden shelter. The 300km racers didn’t have to visit the exact checkpoint to sign in but we had to send a message from our spot trackers to say that we’d been there. As Ryan and Pete went to sign in I continued on ahead despite several people shouting at me to go and sign in. They wouldn’t have known that we didn’t have to as they weren’t at our briefing.
The route continued on the river for a short while before cutting off and through a small village with a short distance of road which was nice to stretch the legs a bit. It wasn’t long though before we were back onto soft snow trails and the snow shoes had to be unpacked and strapped on. For me, this wasn’t so easy. My usual shoes for running in the snow are Inov8 arctic claw which have small metal studs on the bottom. These weren’t compatible with my snow shoes due to the amount of damage they could cause so I had another pair of normal inov8 trainers strapped into the snow shoes. All I had to do was change them. Sounds easy enough but you try undoing and doing up shoe laces with three pairs of gloves on and/or numb fingers. I was relived after changing them and made quicker progress through the deeper snow. There was a fat biker just ahead of me that kept falling off. I would watch him struggle and then topple over in slow motion. I would laugh hysterically out of ear shot but look down as soon as I could see his head pop out of the waist deep snow and look in my direction to see if I was laughing. He would dust himself off and continue pushing his beast of a bike. When I drew level to where he fell over I could see the imprint in the snow of a man on his bike lying flat. I saw many of these, not just from him but from all the Fat bikers (a type of bike, not a type of cyclist). They were having a tough old time in this year’s soft snow and ultimately most would end up either dropping out or pushing their bikes for the majority of the race.
At checkpoint 2 – Sinettajarvi – 21km I skipped though it. It looked to be a couple of ladies with some water. I didn’t need any and didn’t need to sign in so continued straight onto the next section which was very different to the roads and trails I’d just left. We were now into a small section of forest that would lead down to a lake. This was knee deep snow winding through very narrow trees with lots of twists and turns. The sled got caught on everything and would nosedive into some of the deeper foot holes. I overtook a few people on foot and about four fat bikers in this short 1km section. I really enjoyed it despite the sled getting caught a lot. I remember from the briefing that the orgasniser referred to this section as the “pain in the ass”. If this was as bad as it got I was quite looking forward to the race. From there we entered onto the lake and would stay on it for a few hours. I would overtake a few people and then be overtaken by a few. Some people would say hello, some would try to ignore me and pretend I wasn’t there. Bit strange! I stopped a few times for a little break, to eat something, have a hot drink, take off the snow shoes, add/remove layers etc.
After a couple of lakes and bidding farewell to a couple of Fat bikers that were doing the 66km race and turning off our route to head back to Rovaneimi (part of me was jealous) I caught up with a couple more guys as we entered a hilly section through forests and deep snow. The snow shoes were back on and the plodding continued. I have a lot of memory blanks here but it would have gotten dark at around 17:00 so the head torch came out and I would have continued plodding, on my own along the fairly well marked but difficult to go wrong trail. It was all well-trodden and it was easy to follow foot prints and tyre tracks. It was a lonely race though with a very thinned out field. I witnessed my first DNF, a chap with his fat bike bundled into what looked like a small trailer on the back of a snow mobile. Soon after I reached a checkpoint and had a quick break to refill my flasks. Ryan and Pete caught up with me as I was leaving, and they were stopping to get something to eat so I wished them well and continued on my way. I was still feeling good and didn’t really want to have a break at that point. I didn’t have a strategy other than having a hot meal as close to every 12 hours as possible. I was going to try and cover as much ground as possible before the sleep demons kicked in. At around 21:00 I reached the checkpoint of Morajarvi and stopped for a hot meal next to the fire. To explain the checkpoints, they were little more than a fire. I sat on a mat around the fire and ladled hot water into my expedition meal. This was a fully self-sufficient race so no help from the checkpoint staff. We were lucky to have water, I wouldn’t get any in the second half of the race. I was informed that there was one 300 racer in front of me and they said he was planning to sleep at Kuusilampi which was a couple of checkpoints further on but it had plenty of warm sleeping space. I was keen to get there asap and overtake the leader whilst he was asleep so at least I could lead the race for a few minutes! Once I’d left Morajarvi I entered another “pain in the ass” section of trees and very dep snow which was extremely difficult to get through whilst dragging a sled. I lost my temper a couple of times when it got caught on a tree. There was a famous bridge crossing that we’d been warned about. It was very narrow with no hand rail and crossed a small stream. In a previous year someone had fallen in along with their sled and got into a bit of trouble so I was very cautious crossing it. Two fat bikers were right behind me as we entered the wooded section, but I never saw them again and I think this tricky section really slowed them down.
I don’t remember the next checkpoint at all so probably only stopped for a quick drink and to say hello to the event crew before continuing in the dark towards Kuusilampi.
When I arrived, I could see the race leaders (Rob is his name) pulk outside so I popped in, bashing my head on the doorway in the process and changed my socks, had a hot drink and something to eat but there was no sign of him so I guessed there was another room available to sleep in. I was pretty dazed and annoyed about bashing my head and wasn’t in the mood for socializing. Lucky really as there was one fat biker sat in silence looking pretty miserable, an old lady and an old bloke peeling an orange with a machete. I saw no reason to stick around so continued back out into the cold for the very long leg of 37km to the next checkpoint. We’d been spoilt so far with all checkpoints being around 10-22km apart. 37 was a big ask, especially at night. I continued on though with nothing too eventful (apart from a good 20 minutes of gawping at the northern lights), on a mixture of snow mobile trails, iced over roads and forest trails until a town came into view at approximately half way between checkpoints. I’d been looking forward to this as I was falling asleep and had decided on having a short nap. As I made my way through the sprawling but virtually non-existent town comprising of a few houses set back from the road I was gutted that there were no shops, pubs, public toilets etc. In fact, all I was hoping for was some public toilets, so I could get my sleeping bag out and have a quiet sleep. I kept looking and kept hoping until I started to leave the town and the buildings became less regular. As I passed a primary school I doubled back and decided that the gazebo in the middle of the play ground would have to do. There was smoke coming from the chimney of the caretakers’ house along with a couple of lights on so I tried to crunch my way through the snow as quietly as possible before digging out my sleeping bag, setting my alarm and settling in for a dreamy 20 minute nap. Getting out the sleeping bag was always going to be tough and putting my cold, swollen and painful feet back into my cold and frozen shoes was never going to be a highlight. I did it as quickly as possible as I didn’t know what time school would start and hadn’t even realised until writing this that this would have been a Sunday morning and there was no need to rush! D’oh! As I approached the town before getting some sleep I had seen a head torch a few kilometers behind me so I had expected to have been overtaken but would never find out. I continued on as night broke into day and spirits were lifted. It’s always easier to stay awake in the day time and the scenery was spectacular, if a little samey. I was relieved to get the long leg out of the way and make it to the check point of Toramokivalo but once again this was just a fire in the middle of nowhere. No seats, rooms, hot meals etc, just a fire and an urn of some nearly hot water. It was around 09:00 so 24 hours after starting and time for another meal. Once done I headed out for another depressingly long section of 24km. It was made even more depressing by the checkpoint crew who had put a big sign out saying well done, just 24km to the next checkpoint. After the really long one I could have done with a short distance like 8km. Never mind, the first part of it was on an ice road so I may be able to get some down hill running in or sledging to increase my average speed. I was receiving word from my wife that I was still in the lead so this kept my spirits high but there was still a long way to go. During the road section I played cat and mouse with a couple of fat bikers. They would overtake me on the downs and I would stroll past them on the ups. One of them friendly and happy to chat, the other ignored any conversation I tried to start, in any language!
From the road we stepped off onto a forest trail of deep snow so the snow shoes were back on and I continued at a good speed but can’t remember much more other than time was dragging, pace was slowing and it was becoming an unpleasant slog to get to the next checkpoint of the 150 route which was the first and last checkpoint. I stopped there this time to dig out my head torch and fill up my flasks. I knew that after this I would get to the finish line of the 150 back in Rovaneimi and be very close to my warm, cosy apartment and a nearby pub. The temptation to quit here would be very big and I already knew I had to get to the finish/start and continue onto the second, very different loop as quickly as possible and get past the point of no return. The route from the last checkpoint to the finish/start takes an eternity with the city of Rovaniemi and the bridge in sight for the entire time, it just never seems to get any closer so you try to keep looking down instead of at the lights that don’t get any bigger or brighter.
When I got to the finish line of the 150 I called Alex the race organiser to check that my spot tracker was working and to inform him that I was carrying on with the second loop. He informed me that lots of people had been dropping out but that my tracker was working well. This was a relief as I was having battery issues. I knew batteries wouldn’t survive very well in the cold but I had gone through them at an alarming rate. I had changed the batteries on the tracker once and my head torch batteries were running dangerously low. My GPS was doing OK and I would need that for the second loop but my IPOD had died, my phone was intermittent and my portable battery charger had gone from four bars to one bar without using it. I spent most of my time on rivers and lakes without using my head torch and let my eyes adjust to the night.
I stopped shortly after Rovaniemi for a call of nature and put on an extra layer as it was always a bit colder at night and on the rivers and lakes. I lost the feeling in my fingers again but carried on pushing along the river away from the city constantly making fists with my hands to keep circulation going.
The second loop of the race was different in that there were no checkpoints to look forward to. We had a few waypoints on the map where we were to send a message from our trackers, so the event crew could see we had made it there and not taken any shortcuts. On our maps and GPS we could see where there would be Laavu’s, small wooden structures out of the wind with a fire pit and if we were lucky, fire wood. I knew there was one virtually on the route at waypoint 11 and planned to stop there for a sleep as it was now approaching midnight and I was falling asleep whilst walking. Looking on the GPS was frustrating as it was showing as 1.2 km away, so I’d keep plodding, longing for a change of activity but it never seemed to get any closer. 20 minutes later I was sure I would be there, so I’d look at the GPS and find I still had 800 metres to go. This continued and I got more and more frustrated until I found the shelter. Three walls and filled with snow so I cleared what snow I could and laid my sleeping bag out before getting some fire wood and making a fire to be proud of. Once I’d had a hot meal I removed my shoes and left them near the fire to defrost and got into bed only to be joined by two other racers, Rob from the US on foot and Jordi, a fat biker from Catalonia. I had a chat with both as they sorted their gear and apologised for my sprawling kit taking up all the space. I hadn’t expected visitors. I had a short sleep of 90 minutes and tried to get out of my sleeping bag, change socks, put my iced-up shoes back on and climb over the other two sleeping beauties without waking them. Unfortunately, the fire had gone out so I made another and started trying to melt snow to fill my flasks. This takes an eternity and in hindsight this was one of my main mistakes with the race. I hadn’t researched it or read the race information well enough and hadn’t anticipated a 158km (which actually turned out to be a 164km loop) without any water being provided. This was very self-sufficient. I like it like that but didn’t have a decent cooker with which to melt snow quickly. After an hour of melting enough snow to fill my 3 one litre flasks whilst trying to defrost my shoes and keep disruption to the fellow competitors to a minimum I was off. But not before setting fire to the shoes that were on my feet! Minor damage but the shoes were destined for the bin anyway.
I reluctantly left the comfort of the fire and continued on but immediately came across two identical sled tracks. I knew that there were two other 300km foot competitors behind me; Julian Hall, who I had met in the Yukon last year and again at the race briefing and a Swedish chap who had won the 150 race the year before and I’d spend a little time with earlier in this race. I knew that both had identical and quite unique pulks so as soon as I saw two identical trails in the snow I’d assumed I had been overtaken and tried in vain to catch them and retake the lead. For hours I pushed on aching to catch a glimpse of them in the distance. Daylight had come and the views were fantastic. Lovely forests but relentless, never ending hills. I stopped at another indoor shelter but my lighter had froze so I didn’t bother making a fire and wasting time but continued on in my hunt for the leaders. From waypoint 14 I knew we would head onto a river which was the focus of a lot of our briefing as there was a lot of thin ice so we had a separate GPS track to follow to avoid it. It’s quite nerve wracking to be on such a big river with so many warnings of thin ice and to be so far away from safety. Even with a view of about 5km I couldn’t see anyone ahead and checked behind me once I’d made my way safely across. No one behind either. I knew there was another shelter coming up but just like before, it never seemed to get any closer. I went past some isolated houses and saw my first human in quite a while, but still some distance away. As I passed I shouted hello and asked about a hut. He explained that it was 2km away and he would take me there if I could wait 5 minutes. I explained quickly that I was in a race but he wasn’t listening so I continued on. The hut was about 800 metres off the trail and would be 800 metres back so another 1.6km which was about half an hour. Worth the detour though as I wanted to sort my kit out and prepare for another long night. I took the detour and eventually found a lovely little hunting hut with a stove indoors, plenty of fire wood, a bunk bed and space to spread out my gear to dry. I struggled to get the stove lit due to inexperience and stupidity. Who knew you had to close the door! So once again, I spent far too long faffing around. I had to keep my shoes on so I could go outside every couple of minutes to get more snow to try and melt to fill the flasks. I had to use my own cooker as the stove wasn’t getting very hot. Once all the flasks were filled and I’d had another hot meal I got into bed for 20 minutes. I hated wasting two hours of daylight progress in favour of sleep and faffing but couldn’t see another solution. Unfortunately, it meant that when I did finally leave it would be getting dark again and I’d be in for another long night.
Once back on the trail I switched my phone on and called the wife for an update. It seems the two people that overtook me with their identical puks hadn’t overtaken me at all. They’d dropped out at the end of the 150 loop and I’d been following someone else’s (non race) trails in vain! I had now been overtaken by Rob though and he had a convincing lead of around 8.5km. Actually, the wife initially told me 10km, heard how disheartened I was and then changed it to 8.5km to make me feel better. I then proceeded to bust my ass and push way to hard to see if I could close the gap at all. A few hours later I was knackered and checked in again to find out I was still 8.5km behind. Had I known the truth I had closed the gap by 1.5km in a few hours I may have continued to push but knowing that I’d given it my all and he was still the same distance ahead I decided at that moment that he was a better athlete and deserved the win, so I settled for second place and survival in a tough situation.
It was dark again and another death march through the night. Most of this section is a blur. I don’t remember much other than constantly looking for more waypoints so I would have the excitement of pushing a button on my spot tracker and trying to keep consuming calories to fuel the engine. I had an amazing couple of hours of enjoying the natural light show of Aurora Borealis which was absolutely fantastic. I knew the tourists from Rovaniemi were probably paying a fortune for the opportunity to come out on a 4×4 to view them. I seemed to have them all to myself.
In the early hours after I’d been battling with sleep deprivation for too long I went downhill rapidly and started hallucinating a lot. Nothing weird like aliens, soldiers or anything like that, just imagining shelters, homes, out buildings etc I knew there was a shelter on the map and on the GPS but I couldn’t find it and I really needed it. I spoke to the Mrs and probably scared her a bit as I was getting delirious and needed rest. Every tree I passed appeared to be a building. My wife’s parents house, my ex partners parents house, my parents house, eventually every house I used to deliver milk to during my teenage part time job. I was even trying to enter these houses for some comfort only to end up covered in snow as I walked into a tree! Things weren’t good and I recalled the unfortunate incident on this years Yukon Arctic Ultra where an Italian competitor seemingly pushed himself very hard and was found after several hours wandering around with no shoes, socks or gloves on. There’s a strong chance he will lose both feet and hands. I was conscious of this fact and that I didn’t want to push myself too far so once the decision had been made to sleep on the trail in the middle of this imaginary housing estate I mentally prepared to make the transition quick. The mitts would come off, the expedition jacket would go on, the sleeping system would be rolled out, my shoed feet would go inside a bag for life and I would hop into the sleeping bag for a short nap. The short nap got longer as I kept “snoozing” my alarm but I think I had about 40 minutes. When I woke I realised I’d had quite a heavy nose bleed and was covered in blood – my face, my clothing and my sleeping bag. I also had half a pack of warm “Percy Pigs” stuck to my chest. None of this was pleasant but I leapt out of the sleeping back and got ready to move double quick to get some body heat going. Unfortuantely the nose bleed wouldn’t stop completely for nearly 20 hours.
The march continued through the last of the darkness and into daybreak which was a relief. It’s always easier to stay awake in the daytime although my eyes were still heavy. Throughout the race and other races, I always have a game of trying to see how long I can walk with my eyes closed. I know it’s stupid but it breaks the monotony. Usually one of three things happens – I either lose my bottle after about 20-30 foot steps and open my eyes, I walk into a tree or other foreign object or I fall asleep and fall over. It’s usually one of the latter two and nearly always, my eyelids will freeze shut so I then have to deal with falling over or walking into a tree and defrosting my eyes so I can open them again! All fun and games.
I don’t recall anything memorable for the rest of that day but at waypoint 27 I detoured towards a lovely Laavu where I could get some sleep, food and refill my flasks for the last leg. The detour wasn’t too long, maybe a kilometre but the whole journey was filled with hope of what I might find. I was hoping for a cabin with four walls but I got another snow filled Laavu. I proceeded to make an enormous fire outside to keep me warm and started melting snow on my cooker to fill the flasks. I was told by my wife before my phone died for the last time that I had around 28km to go. This should be around 10 hours and it was now mid afternoon so I was looking at finishing in the early hours of the morning.
The Laavu came complete with a “long drop” about 100 metres away so I enjoyed being able to sit on a toilet for the first time in a few days. Whilst I was preparing for the last leg I checked I had what I needed for another 10 hours of walking through the darkness. I knew I’d be falling asleep so checked I had my little bag of caffeine tablets and was horrified to find that they’d gone missing. I retraced my steps in a panic and went back to the loo to see if they’d fallen on the floor there. I tried in vain but couldn’t locate the small bag of pure white tablets in the pure white snow! I was gutted and knew that they would keep me awake until the finish. The only other caffeine I had was a “High 5” energy powder which I mixed into one of my flasks before getting my head down for 20 minutes sleep. When I woke, the fire was still roaring and the view was spectacular but the light was starting to dim and I knew I need to try and make the most of the last hour of light. I packed up, had one last check for my caffeine and started on my way. By this point my phone was dead so all that was working was my spot tracker and my GPS. All I should need really. Unfortuantely the nose bleed from the morning had continued and barely a moment went by when I didn’t have toilet roll showed up my nostrils.
I knew I had a long section on the river to get me back to the finish and Rovaniemi but the terrain between here and there was quite tricky with a mixture of lakes, roads, forest trails, deep snow, ice etc and some tricky navigation, especially at night when tired. Although it didn’t look far on the map, it just took forever and seemed to be winding around with no logic. Why couldn’t we just go in a straight line! I went past a bit of civilisation which seemed to be the grounds and surrounding area of a hotel. There appeared to be cross country ski tracks criss-crossing across our path along with other footpaths and roads with signs everywhere for each. It was very confusing and I pretty much had to be staring at the GPS which was tricky when carrying walking poles and trying to drag the sled up and down extremely steep roads whilst it tried desperately to pull me back down with it.
I could see lights in the distance and roads and thought the river was coming up. I had a nice long down hill section so sledged down on my pulk for some of it and ran down for other bits, enjoying adding to my average speed….until I got to the bottom and checked my GPS to realise that I had gone about 1.5km down the wrong track. Now I had to climb back up. All in all, very frustrating and probably cost me about an hour even though I had been so close to where I was supposed to be, if I didn’t have a tracker on I probably could have found a way to get back on track without retracing my steps but it was dangerous with icy rivers and deep snow drifts.
I retraced my steps and got back on track until finally I entered the river. The terrain would be flat and straight all the way to the finish but that would be a frustrating 20 ish kilometres. I’m never happy. I’d been longing to get on this final home straight for many hours. Now I was here I wanted to be somewhere else. I was falling asleep again and knew there was a Laavu coming up so eventually I stumbled across it and tried to make a fire but it was quite near a residential area and all of the wood had been used. I searched for more and cut a few branches from nearby trees to get some heat going but it wouldn’t last. I jumped in my sleeping bag for a quick 20-minute nap to freshen me up and then woke. I tried to have a caffeine drink but my flask (only that one) had frozen closed so I couldn’t access it. Typical.
I continued on for what I expected would be five to seven hours. A little bit of running but mostly power hiking and trying to keep eating until I came across a snowmobiler that happened to be Alex the race organiser. What a relief to see a friendly face. We had a little chat and he followed me for a while. I was supposed to be on the other side of the river as there was reportedly thin ice on my side. I didn’t find any and he told me I should be OK to stay on this side which I did. He left me and came back a few times. He informed me that there was only me and Jordi left on the course and he was some distance behind me, courageously still pushing his bike. Rob had already finished so all I had to do was keep plodding for a couple of hours until the finish. The final waypoint which was also the first and final waypoint for the 150 came and went which meant I had less than two hours to go but once again I had that horrible section of seeing the Rovaniemi city and bridge not getting any closer.
To reach the imaginary finish line to a hug from Alex was a great moment. Not the excitement and joy of a big race where you run across a line surrounded by screaming spectators, just a personal satisfaction of achieving something very few other people have…or would want to. After quick hugs we set about trying to get my pulk in the back of Alex’s car so I could be dropped off at my apartment and get some rest. I was presented with a nice trophy and hand made medal and accepted the congratulatory words from Alex before he departed.
I was so physically exhausted that I stood in the shower and switched it on. The power of it knocked me over!
My thoughts on the race:
If you’re looking for a very tough, self-sufficient arctic race, this is the one for you. No molly coddling, no checkpoints, no back slapping and confidence boosting medics/volunteers. Just you and the elements. I loved it and would highly recommend it but make sure you know what you’re doing.
What did I do right:
I arrived on the start line as well trained and in as good shape as I’ve been for any race. I’d spent a bit of time tyre pulling but more importantly I had spent a lot more time in the Gym doing the big exercises – squats, deadlifts, overhead presses and a fair bit of tricep work which helped with the poles. If you have a skierg machine at your gym, make friends with it. A great piece of kit. I felt a bit heavier than usual but stronger going into the race and had been attending weekly Pilates sessions to help with core strength and flexibility. I’d spent a lot of time on the foam roller and had a few massages in the run up to the race. My kit choices were good on the whole but improvements can be made. I was very happy with my pulk and haulage system but it was probably a little heavy.
What did I do wrong:
My cooker was shite. I should have done more research, realised that I would be melting snow every day and should have purchased and practiced with a decent cooker. I didn’t because I rented the best in the business in the Yukon the year before and the thing didn’t work when I needed it to. I wanted simple and unbreakable but unfortunately the down side was cooking/boiling time.
My strategy of having spare shoes strapped into the snow shoes didn’t work at all as the shoes would freeze in the pulk bag so I couldn’t undo the laces. I need to either find decent shoes that are good for the snowy terrain and work with the snow shoes or find snowshoes that are compatible with the studs on the Arcticlaw shoes.
I probably dragged around 25 kilos in total and a few of that was probably spare clothes that I didn’t need. I may have been over prepared but when you’re in the sticks, miles from civilisation, is there such a thing?
My body held up well with the exception of my left hip flexor which caused a few issues in the second half of the race.
My kit list
3 x Merino base layers
1 x Berghaus primaloft Hypertherm jacket (used as mid layer)
1 x Montane Sabretooth softshell – worn everyday as outer layer
1 x Montane Minimus waterproof shell – unworn
1 x NorthFace Down Gilet – unworn
1 x Montane Deep cold Jacket – essential and worn many times each day during breaks
2 x Merino boxer shorts – Only 1 pair worn
1 x Merino tights – unworn
2 x Subsports Thermal compression tights – unworn
1 x Subsports compression shorts – unworn
1 x Rab Vapour rise trouser – worn continually throughout the race. A great purchase
1 x Montane Prism over trouser – unworn
1 x Rab latok gaiters – unworn
1 x pair of Compressport calf guards – worn continually throughout race
2 x pairs of liner gloves – only one pair worn but these melted to my hand when tending to a fire
2 x pairs of mid layer gloves – only one pair worn
1 x Pair of Expedition mitts – invaluable and worn everyday
3 x Buff’s – only one worn
1 x Face mask – unworn
1 x Montane Punk Balaclava – unworn
1 x Montane Yukon Beanie hat – worn all day every day
1 x Sealskin hat – unworn
4 x Injinji liner socks
4 x Drymax running socks
2 x Drymax winter running socks
1 x Inov8 Arctic claw thermo trainers
1 x Inov8 xclaw
1 x Pair of motorcycle overboots
1 x Yaktrax – unworn
1 x Kahtoola snow shoes – used from about 40% of the race
1 x sleeping mat
1 x North face -40c sleeping bag
1 x Alpkit Bivvi bag
1 x silk sleeping bag liner
Survival and miscellaneous equipment comprising of:
Leatherman multi tool
Large sheath knife
Fire kit – comprising of flint and steel, waterproof matches, lights, fire sticks, fire lighters, alcohol hand sanitiser, tampons
2 x bungees
3 x 1 litre Thermos flasks
Fire kit – lighters/matches/Maya wood/firelighter/Flint & steel/tampons
Leki trekking poles
Inov8 running very to accommodate hydration bladder
Camelbak Winter hydration pack and insulated hose
Small travel towel
16 x Lithium AA batteries
8 x Lithium AAA batteries
LED Lenser head torch
LED Lenser back up head torch
IPod & headphones
Sunglasses – unworn
Ski goggles – unworn
Wet wipes (froze and were useless)
Harness and rope hauling system
Pulk and pulk bag
Compressions bags for spare clothing
Ankle and knee supports
Phone and IPOD charger cables
Cash for evacuation
Bags for life
Flashy red light (lost two!)
First aid kit comprising of:
Sun tan lotion
Vaseline, Lanacane and Savlon
Silicone toe covers
Bandages and dressings
Needles and syringes
Tincture of Benzoin (Friars Balsam)
My food list
2 x expedition foods freeze dried meals
2 x SIS energy gels
2 x High 5 energy gels
5 x High 5 energy drink powders (2 Whey protein and carbohydrate , 2 energy source, 1 Extreme high caffeine)
2 x bags of Jerky plus a Wors from the Little Jersey Biltong company
2 x Protein bars
2 x chocolate bars (mars and snickers)
1 bag of mixed fruit, nuts and seeds
1 bag of Percy Pigs
1 Kendal mint cake
This worked out to be approximately 6000 calories per day
Thanks as always goes to my sponsors: