If you have been following the daily updates on www.sleepmonsters.com, you would have seen that the conditions for the first day of the BHP Billiton Rock and Ice Ultra were pretty challenging. The temperature on race morning of day one was -25C. Combined with high winds made for very hazardous running conditions. To add to this, we were treated to whiteout snow squalls at times; so heavy that you couldn't see the shore from the lake you were running on.
It's not surprising that a number of people were treated with cold related conditions including frost bite and hypothermia, and the last I heard there were at least 7 participants evacuated during the first day and others decided to drop out after the stage or before the start of day two. Everyone who did get through the first day felt as though they were very fortunate and could only hope that day two was going to be a better day.
Greg McHale and Jason Terauchi-Loutitt took things out hard in the Diamond Ultra six day race for the first four hours of the day, before Terauchi-Loutitt was forced to retire from the race due to exposure to the cold. McHale went on to finish the first day in an astounding time that was 20 minutes faster than his time last year. Andrew Cameron of Ottawa ran a strong stage to finish the day in second place, while I was in third in the male category.
The womens race so far hasn't disappointed those who follow adventure racing and ultra running. Denise McHale and Jen Segger ran side by side for much of the day, before McHale pushed on to gain 13 minutes on Segger by the end of the stage.
In the K-Rock three day race, my wife Sara is running a very strong, consistent race and is leading the women's field, however Fumi Sutoh of Japan and Lisa Brougham of BC are running well, not too far off Sara's pace. Dennis Colburn ran a solid race to lead the men's field in K-Rock.
The start of day two brought renewed hope for everyone after limping into the day one stage camp. The winds had died down overnight, but the temperature had also dropped very low at the remote stage camp, which made for a cold night of sleep in the tents.
After the horn sounded, Greg McHale picked up where he left off, pushed hard from the beginning and build up a seemingly insurmountable lead. Andrew continues to sit comfortably in second place. Denise and Jen picked up their battle where they left off. Sara was looking as though she was getting stronger as her race continued. Dennis Colburn continues to lead the men's K-Rock field.
This is where my race unfortunately came to an end. Fighting a fever, combined with a sore back from pulling my pulk through deep snow, I made the hard decision to drop out after about 24km into day two. I thought about this for a long time before actually pulling the plug, but in the end realized that after popping vitamin I (Ibruprohen) after vitamin I, that things were going to continue to get worse for a while before getting better. I didn't feel particularly good going into the race, which may have been my body fighting a flu bug beforehand. In the end I really had the choice made for me. Very disappointing, but not much I could do.
So, 'Derrick the participant' now becomes 'Derrick the observer'. While pulling out of a race is never easy, at least the consolation is that I can follow the rest of the race from the sidelines and cheer Sara on in her final day of the race.
Now it's time to put this sick camper back to bed and try to get some rest before a busy 'non-racing' day on Monday.
Remember to check out www.sleepmonsters.com for more reports and photos.