Ice Ultra 2019 Race Report - Stage Four

Stage Four is a monster.  64km is an awfully long way under any circumstances, but when it’s minus 26c outside and the ground is covered in snow.

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Stage Four is a monster.  64km is an awfully long way under any circumstances, but when it’s minus 26c outside and the ground is covered in snow.

The first wave of runners set out at 5am local time this morning.  Or rather a little after 5.  It is very difficult to motivate yourself and pack you kit properly when you’ve only had a handful of hours to sleep and the only light available is your headtorch and a couple of paraffin lamps.  Still the mood lighting made for a relaxed atmosphere and the runners headed out in fine spirits.

At 6am the main wave of runners set off.  It was still dark but the colours of a beautiful sun rise were starting to show in the sky.  There were signs of anticipation among a fair few of the runners, quite understandably, but also a feeling that everyone could sense how close the end was now.

By 7am, when the fastest duo set off, the sky was a deep blood orange contrasted against the deep dark blue of the snow.  As Simon Grimstrup and Andre Hook began their epic battle the sky put on a show.

And what a battle it was.  Andre Hook set out today determined to claim a stage win for himself and, though it took everything he had, he succeeded.  He came in little more than 5 minutes ahead of the hugely experienced Simon Grimstrup and both runners crossed the line absolutely exhausted.  At various points it had looked like Simon might reel in Andre but the Belgian always managed to stay ahead.  Often visible and tantalisingly close, but always ahead.

In third position was Wim Smout who took a third place finish for the fourth day in a row.  The ‘Ice Bear’ showing he can live up to his name.

Abelone Lyng grabbed yet another stage win, making it 4 out of 4.  Not bad at all for an athlete who has never run a multi-stage race before.  Like many of the runners Abelone is pretty sure she never wants to see snowshoes again.  Hers have battered her feet and she’s running through some serious soreness at the moment.

2 woman over the line once again was local runner Rianne Dasselaar.  The finish line today is only 3km from her front door and this race has given her the opportunity to experience the territory she calls home in a very different way.  Her compatriot Niclas Svensson is one of the three remaining runners out on the course who are due to finish any minute now.

Today has been a tough stage, the terrain is undulating and scattered with drifts of soft snow and areas of jagged icey crust which sap the strength in your legs and your spirit.  The last stretch in particular can be knee deep in places and it’s impossible to get any momentum.  Still, our last three runner have pushed on and have been pushing since 6am this morning.  It is now 1am the following day.

At CP5 today we put a cut-off in place of 8:30pm.  Four runners didn’t reach this checkpoint in time but they will be short course finishers.  They’ve done easily enough to earn themselves a medal.

Tomorrow they have only 15km to cover.  Three parkruns and they’re home.  They’ll have company tomorrow as well as the first edition of the local organised Ice Ultra Light begins.

Join us at 10am (9am UTC) to witness the end of this epic race.

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Will Roberts

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Ice Ultra 2019