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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Jan's Epic Journey - Wolves, Frostbite, -50°C.....

Three weeks ago we posted about Jan and Petra - the honeymoon couple that were doing the Epic Jan & Petra....  Well since then, the race has come and gone.  After learning a bit of what Jan and Petra were tackling - I researched the race a bit.  Prior to watching this, I have to be honest, I was complaining about the Ontario cold, I am not anymore.  If you can spare a few moments, watch this: Epic Race!  Obviously this race is not for everyone, it does however show what is possible when we don't puts limits on what we believe we can achieve.
Yukon Arctic Ultra:

Below is what Jan gave us after the race, we are so grateful for the insights.

"Yukon Arctic Ultra 2015, it was extremely tough and incredibly beautiful at the same time.  Yukon was nice to us and showed us everything on its menu.  From very cold temperatures dropping to -50°C to mild -10°C, from snow and wind to sunny days.  Scary and huge wolf tracks, northern lights, frozen lakes and rivers, challenging overflows, moments of pure happiness and moments of pure exhaustion and fear.  

The goal was 700km for me and 160km for my wife.  D-day came and we almost missed the start, but being late by couple minutes on race that takes days is not big deal.  First 160km was part of our honeymoon so we walked together with my lovely wife Petra.  And it was crazy cold, -43°C in the morning so we better kept moving.  First day passed away pretty easy.  Well, I mean "easy" in Yukon way.  Petra was having big troubles with her hips so we decided to bivvy down and take some rest.  We were afraid of cold but we zipped two sleeping bags together and biological heat worked well so we were cold only little bit and slept.  Unfortunately Petra´s hip got worse so we pushed another whole day and once we reached check point at 100km she decided to scratch.  Very hard, but wise decision.  And I am very proud for her!!  Her hips hurt already from the start, but she didn´t tell me and pushed through.  

From 100km check point I kept going solo.  Another night on the snow in -46°C.  I got frostbite on my fingers, but fortunately I fought back and saved my fingers.  It was long haul through the night and morning before I reach Braeburn, 160km mark.  There I met my wife again. I  ate and rest little bit and it was so hard to say good bye and kept going.  There was another 75km before next check point and I knew it will take me whole night.  I felt exhausted and sleepy, it is funny how body reacts to extreme conditions.  I felt great for couple hours, pushing hard and everything was ok and than I felt
like crap and at the bottom.  Later that night when I was on frozen lakes I saw track of wolf for the first time.  With wolves in my mind I bivvy down for a while.  It warmed up to -26°C and it was windy and snowing.  I reached Ken lake, 240km mark around midday.  Bit of sleep and food and ready for another push, 60km to Carmacks.  In the last three nights I slept only 6 hour altogether so my mind was playing games.  Pushing through the night is very mentally difficult and I saw scary creatures, weird shapes and objects in snow covered trees.  I got used to it, worse was when I started to have hearing hallucinations.  This night was the worst, walking in the dark forest with fresh wolves tracks all over the trail.  Many wolves were around me and they were following.  I was so scared and exhausted, because I was afraid to stop and rest.  Long scary night, but 5am I made it to Carmacks.  I needed better sleep and rest.  And I also needed to start traveling more during the day.  

Next 55km was on softer snow and my achilles were giving me troubles, it was never ending and I had to cross few over flows, but it went quite ok and I made it to McCabe.  From there long and straight stretch to Pelly crossing.  I traveled mostly over the day and I made it to Pelly crossing later evening.  Over 400km behind me and I was happy I made it to here.  My achilles were still in pain, but I hoped good rest will help.  Finally we got some sun and warm -10°C.  53km to Pelly Farm went very well and pretty fast, so early in the evening I made it to Pelly Farm.  My tendons were on strike so I made decision I will wait the night and see what will happen in the morning.  Next morning my
achilles was swollen and I tried to walk, but with big pain so I made very hard decision to turn around and walk back to finish shorter distance.  It is always very hard to make important decision, and now I am very happy I made this decision.  So last 53km back to the finish line of shorter distance.  I took it easy and around 9pm I made it back to Pelly Crossing, 512km behind me.  Health is most important for me and I am very happy with the result, and my decision. 

I would like to say big THANKS to Infinit Nutrition Canada for providing me with the best custom made nutrition (hydration) ever.  I used my custom formula for endurance and I have to say it worked amazing.  And I am not saying that because I was supported by Infinit, I used Infinit even before I had any kind of support.  I am saying that because I could see the results in my performance. I didn´t bonk, I didn´t feel dehydrated and it kept me going.  For recovery I used Repair and that was main key in my fitness, of course I was tired, but each morning my muscles felt almost fine, something I didn´t expect. Thank you guys and Thank you Yukon for being nice to me!!!!"

A total of 31 racers started the 430 mile race.  12 finished (1 unranked).  Jan got the furthest of all the racers that were not able to complete the full distance this year.

Absolutely unbelievable - Congrats Jan - rest well.
Thanks for sharing.

- Darcy Haggith, President, Infinit Nutrition Canada