STAGE ONE BLOG | The Mountain Tundra
The runners gathered on the start line at 7am local time as the sun crept up over the frozen arctic landscape and showed them a little of the gruelling Mountain Tundra stage.
And what a stage it was! Day one has been a massive day filled with the usual mix of massive highs and massive lows for our brave runners.
The first to cross the line at the end of Stage 1 was Robbie Britton. Nobody doubted this athlete’s abilities before the start of this race, Robbie ran in the 24hr Running Championships for Team GB last year and came 3rd overall, but it has still been pretty amazing watching his blip on the GPS tracking system fly along the route. Robbie finished as the second and third placed runners were crossing checkpoint 4.
Very early on runners Austin Jarrett and Shaun Marsden pulled into second and third positions. Sticking close together they looked to have these positions tied up until somewhere near CP4 when Mimi Anderson moved ahead of them both. Mimi is a multiple world record holder who began running seriously at the age of 36. She is completing the Beyond the Ultimate Race Series by competing in Ice Ultra 2016 so this amazing push late in the stage was no big surprise.
Next up was Caroline Richards who until Mimi’s push for the finish had been running close-by. Caroline is also a highly experienced ultra-runner who has been tackling multi-day, self-suffiency races since 2001 and is taking on the Ice Ultra to raise money for Alzheimers Research UK.
Next was John Power. Despite describing himself as a ‘struggling endurance athlete’ on Twitter he put in a strong performance and has a strong ultra pedigree having completed the Racing the Planet event in Nepal in 2011 an event with 18,700 metres of ascent and descent over the course.
Chris Plowman, Mark Burley and Ben Olivere came through next as a group. Between them are two 6633 Race competitors, an event taking in 120 miles of Arctic Tundra, multiple Ironman events and marathons and a trek to the base camp of Everest.
Then came Jenny Davis and Hazel Clyne. Both are experienced runners and Jenny is one of a number of competitors out there in Sweden who has completed the fabled Marathon Des Sables. Hazel Clyne is raising money for Marie Curie to help her Fiance reach his £100,000 fundraising target. Her Fiance Luke recently became the youngest Brit and first Scot to ski solo and unsupported to the south pole. They may be making steadier progress but our team report that this duo have been in great spirits throughout the day.
Everybody out there is running their own race and it is no way all about getting one of the top places. Let us not forget what an incredible journey these people have all been through just to get to the starting line of this incredible race. Everybody out there is really competing against themselves.
For 2 of our runners though there was disappointment today as they were forced to drop out at CP2. Both are safe and well recuperating back at Arctic Base Camp. Robert Cimander unfortunately suffered a problem with his shoulder that meant he could no longer manage his backpack. Philip Kirkby also pulled up at stage 2. The conditions on this race are extremely difficult to prepare and, despite a rigorous training regime, Philip could go no further. He is determined to come back and give it another go though.
The team will make a decision tonight on whether to stagger tomorrow morning’s starts depending on individual race times. The idea being to create a tighter pack which is easier to manage in the wilderness. The remoteness of tonight’s camp means that comms between the UK and Sweden are tricky but we’ll keep you updated as and when we hear more.
What is for certain is that tomorrow morning at 7am local time (6am GMT) the first runners will leave the campsite and take on Stage 2 – Frozen Lakes. Ahead of them lay constantly moving frozen lakes and ice formations which rise from the ground effecting the route; the stage distance may vary as a result. It is not unusual to hear the creak and crack of the movement of ice as runner cross this constantly changing stage. They can expect to see some wildlife such as Red Foxes, Moose and Reindeer as they travel between 53 and 61km to the finish line.
We’re already hugely proud of our team and our runners. Let’s hope they get a good night’s sleep tonight.