Q: Do you like the frigid cold?
A: Since the North Pole, I know that I suffer badly from Raynauds. Both my hands and feet could take an hour to warm up in negative temperatures. I have frozen my cheeks and ears from exposure to -30 C. I got hot whilst joining a lap of the North Pole marathon and moved my face gear as I was sweating. I learnt sweating is bad.
Q: So why have you joined Arrowhead Ultra, that is held in the coldest part of the US?
A: I missed the frigid cold! In fact I've forgotten what cold is. Although this year at the moment, weather predictions are that it is going to be warm compared to last year where temperatures went down to -41 C (-42 F). This year it may get as cold as -20 C. Half as cold compared to last year! So I should feel warm. Although last Sunday, I burnt my left cheek from wind chill in -3 or -4 C. But I've now got a balaclava to sort that out.
Q: The race is 135 miles in 72 hours and you have to be self supporting and carry your own survival gear. I hear most people do about 2 miles an hour. What plans have you made to cope with the endurance, cold and time?
A: For the first time, I am going to wear a watch and stop every 2 hours to eat and drink. Have planned in 3 coffee breaks. Don't know if that is cheating but I am very sensitive to caffeine so expect that to keep me awake for the entire journey. In addition to that, I will be singing songs of praises when I need strength and "Bob the Builder" for the "Can you do it?" "Yes you can"
Q: How long is that journey going to be?
A: Maybe 65 hours
Q: Have you done this before?
A: About over 20 years ago when I had to complete a write up for my degree. Stayed up for 4 days. I was delusional and emotional at the end of it. My brain was younger and could take more abuse. So right now in my head, I think I can do it but who knows since I am older, I might just collapse in the snow.
Q: So you must have done a lot of preparation for this?
A: Nope. Longest distance I've completed was a 40 mile race in 2008. Leading up to next week, I did 2 weeks of 20 miles, doubling the distance I've been doing from week to week. This week I have slacked off big time, gaining weight, preparing my gear. Just got myself a sleeping bag to cope with -40 F. One day before the race I will get a sled, stove and more extreme gear.
Q: Sounds pretty foolish preparation
A: Yes. Please do not do this at home for your own ultra marathon preparation.
Q: Why put yourself thru this?
A: It's all about slaying dragons
Q: What do you mean?
A: It's about finding out about yourself. The journey is more important than the end.
Q: But you've been in extreme cold before
A: Yes with a buddy. Now I go alone. Although there will be 134 other participants cycling, skiing and running. So who knows I might pick up somebody or someone might pick me up :-)
Q: And if it wasn't hard enough, I hear you are still taking a tyre with you.
A: Yes I've just got a tyre from the local diary farmer (Dave and Rich). She was a poor wretched thing when I first got her. But she's cleaned up real nice. We're calling her Bisaniiwewin (Bi-sanii-we-win) which means peace in the Ojibwe language. Our mission is to pull for environmental peace as a continuation of the peace mission completed in Kilimanjaro.
Q: Well good luck to you
A: And may you all work harder to reduce your impact on this world's resources :-)