26th February, 2018
The Ice Ultra is over for another year and the hangovers from the after party have been successfully nursed. It seems high time we put out a final Race Report.
On the night of the long stage, the medics and race team held a vigil at the finish line as we awaited Thanh Vu who had an exceptionally long day having started an hour before the main pack but marched for a little under 18hrs to reach the finish line. There was much cheering as she crossed the final lake and appeared at the small log cabin next to our finishing flags.
We had treated the runners to a night spent indoors in the warmth, it was the least we could do after subjecting them to the lowest temperatures this race has ever felt for the last three days. There was much rejoicing among the runners too as we led them passed the large teepee which has provided shelter to previous runners and led them towards warmth and respite.
We also treated them to a lay in. The final, 15km stage started at 10am leaving plenty of time for the runners to rest and eat their way through their last remaining calories. It also left enough time for our team to rush to the finish line and get a warm welcome put in place for them knowing that runners such as Damian Hall and Fabian Breitsamer were costing along the course fast enough to arrive before the welcome mat was rolled out.
Fifteen kilometres doesn’t sound like an awful lot. To the seasoned ultra runner, it’s scarcely a training run. After 4 days of powering through the arctic tundra, however, it’s a distance which seems more daunting. Many of the runners were carrying injuries by this point and all of them were tired and hungry. This would be the longest triple park run of their lives.
The day started out with a team picture in front of the sign on the Arctic, something coach loads of tourists will often pull up to take selfies with, before they set out into the snow for the last time. The final stage is a bitter-sweet experience – the relief of approaching the end of the journey and the comforts and satisfaction which will come with that are mixed with the sudden regret of leaving the wilderness and returning to civilisation. This doesn’t stop people from beaming ear to ear as the cross the line though. This is a massive moment for the runners but also for the race team who experience a huge sense of pride watching each of the competitors who’ve made the distance get to the final flags, each to receive a high five and a hug from our RD.
Damian Hall, as expected, arrived at the finish line just as the last tent pegs were pushed into the snow having flown along the trail once more. He was very closely followed once again by Fabian Breitsamer who had consistently performed incredibly strongly given the injury which forced him to cut short his first stage. Next up was Stefan Lehners and shortly afterwards Maximo Martin who both jumped above the previously consistent Tom Wittek though not by enough time to bump him down the rankings.
The final runner crossed the line after around four hours on the move to a large applause from everyone assembled, including a number of Jokkmokk’s residents who had come along to see the action. All are of the opinion that our runners must be crazy to brave the temperatures which keep them close to home at this time of year. We suspect they may be right.
With the last runner in, the last back slapped, the last hug hugged and the last finish line beer sunk it was time for everybody to retire to our accommodation at the Arctic Camp and prepare themselves for the after-party, often an endurance event itself. The details of this particular party are something we’ll keep to ourselves. The runners earned that party ad it’s their story to tell. For those who want to know a little more about our post-race hootenanny – you’ll have to sign up and secure your own invitation.
We’ll post the full final results table on our return to the UK (providing Swedish Airlines stop cancelling our flights and we get to leave Lulea!) but in the meantime, here is the overall results table for your perusal. As always, what important to us isn’t the numbers so much as it is that we get as many people over the line as possible. This year was a tough one with temperatures that pushed runners and race team to the limit. For everyone who made it to Jokkmokk we’d like to say a massive congratulations, no matter what time it took you!
If you’re ready to come and experience this uniquely challenging and beautiful environment then head to https://btuserver.wpengine.com/ultra/the-ice-ultra-marathon/
|Runner #||First Name||Surname||M/F||Overall Time||Overall Position|