TWO veteran runners from Aylesbury will tackle one of the toughest races in the world this week when they take part in the 100-mile Yukon Arctic Ultra in Northern Canada, writes Jonathan Mudd.
Jim Binks, 67, and Bob Hodges, 60, are both members of Bearbrook Running Club and have decided to test their physical and mental strength in an event where temperatures could drop to -40 degrees Celsius and the weather is notoriously unpredictable.
The Yukon Arctic Trail starts on Saturday in Whitehorse and follows the Yukon Quest Miner’s Trail to the finish in Braeburn.
Binks and Hodges, who have both grown beards to help protect their faces against the cold, will line up against 25 other competitors and are hoping to complete the 100-mile course in 36 hours. We’ve been planning the race for about three years,” explained Binks.
“Bob and I both read Jack London books when we were at school and the Yukon Territory that he wrote about still captivates us now.
“Taking part in this race is a great way of seeing that part of Canada but also a test of our mettle in what will undoubtedly be the toughest conditions we’re ever likely to face.”
Binks and Hodges will each have to carry lots of specialist equipment and provisions during the race, including emergency foods rations, a bivvy sleeping bag that can be used to withstand temperatures of close to -50 degrees Celsius and three different forms of fire lighting equipment. Both men will pull their own equipment on a weighty pulk sled.
“It’s going to be extremely tough and there are three significant threats that we need to be wary of,” said Hodges.
“We have to be careful we don’t sweat while we’re running because that can be very serious if the moisture freezes, we have to do all we can to protect against frostbite, and we don’t want to bump into any elks on the route as they can attack humans.
“If we can get those things right and don’t make too many other mistakes, it should be an enjoyable race.”
> Follow the pair’s progress online as GPS tracks their efforts by visiting www.trackleaders.com