A Kamloops, B.C., woman finished first in her category in the Yukon Arctic Ultra race in Whitehorse on Sunday, CBC reports. Jessie Thomson-Gladish won her ultramarathon in the woman’s category by default after the other two women in the category were unable to complete the journey.
The race bills itself as “the world’s coldest and toughest ultra” and follows the Yukon Quest sled dog trail through the territory’s backcountry in the middle of winter. About 40 competitors at this year’s event chose to complete the course on foot, by bike or on skis. Thomson-Gladish chose to complete the race on foot.
The trek, which can be up to 690 kilometres long, took Thomson-Gladish two weeks to finish. “I do it to get away from everything and be 100 per cent focused on survival and putting one foot in front of the other, enjoying nature, being by myself and completing what I consider to be one of the ultimate challenges physically and mentally,” she said.
Thomson-Gladish pulled a sled behind her with survival essentials, including emergency food in case she got stuck for a couple of extra days. In 2015, she also completed the race, the only woman to complete the race on foot that year.
The competitor says the most difficult part of the race isn’t the –40 C temperatures, but the last 10 kilometres of walking each day.
“You think that you should be there by now,” she said. “By that point in the day, you’ve slowed down a little bit. It’s taking longer to cover that same distance, that in the middle of the day, you had all this amazing daylight energy.”
Thomson-Gladish said that originally being from the Yukon, however, was “definitely a bit of an advantage.”