Richard Charles is into extreme endurance - big time.
This February Richard took part in the Yukon Arctic Ultra (YAU) in Canada. Participants can tackle a distance of 100, 300 or 430 miles by bike, skis or on foot. This year Richard entered in the 300 mile on-foot event, hoping to finish within the eight day cut off. The YAU is described as the world coldest and toughest ultra-marathon and Richard can now confirm it lives up to the hype! It is held during the Canadian winter when the temperatures can reach -50 degC and below, with long nights and short days. The event requires entrants to be completely self-supported, with no outside assistance permitted, carrying or pulling everything required to survive. Sleeping in the open is part of this as there are few checkpoints where sleeping inside is permitted.
Richard has been competing in ultra-distance events all over the world for over 15 years but he found the YAU is on a different level. The very low temperatures and unusually high humidity made the going tough from the very start. The environment is unrelenting and there is no escape – it just grinds you down. This year, after approx. 100 miles, Richard had to withdraw as he was having problems eating and drinking. At these temperatures, not giving your body sufficient liquid and fuel to create enough heat to stay warm cause’s real problems and will likely lead to frostbite and hypothermia. While disappointed to not finish, Richard needed to make the right decision before damage started to occur.
Of course, most people think Richard’s crazy. But the way he sees it, it’s all part of challenging yourself – in fact he thinks everyone else is crazy for not doing it. The people that he has met and places he has seen are great rewards and provide memories for a lifetime. Richard will be back to the Yukon again next year to challenge himself in the coldest and toughest ultra in the world.