An extreme runner from Kent has just returned home from Sweden after completing the gruelling 230km Ice Ultrachallenge in aid of Alzheimer’s Research UK.
Caroline Richards, 46, from Goudhurst, travelled to the snowy country especially to compete in the arduous foot race, which involved walking across snow and ice for five days.
As temperatures dipped to -28 degrees, Caroline kept going and covered around 30 miles a day which took as long as 10 hours to complete due to the heavy snow and challenging terrain.
Carrying everything she could need including a sleeping bag, tracking device and emergency kit, Caroline was only able to stop at checkpoints every 10km.
Setting off at 7am each day Caroline, who has previously completed a number of multi-day events, followed snowy tracks which had been prepared beforehand by a snowmobile.
During the treacherous journey Caroline developed painfully swollen ankles from only walking in snowshoes, and is still nursing the injury at home now.
She completed the challenge with friend Mimi Anderson, who was the world record holder for Ice Ultra in 2007 and also held the female world record for the quickest time running from John o’ Groats to Lands End in 2007.
The nights were spent in shared teepees, sleeping on reindeer hides directly on the snowy ground or in simple wooden huts with wood stoves.
Caroline raised nearly £3,000 for Alzheimer’s Research UK, the UK’s leading dementia research charity, in honour of her dad who is living with Alzheimer’s.
“This was a real challenge. To make things harder, we would stumble gingerly across the fragile layer of surface ice along the route and then unexpectedly sink into the freezing water below.
“Fully clad and with heavy backpacks, and no walking poles made extricating ourselves pretty problematic, and the cold was traumatic to the system, but in my case felt strangely refreshing for my inflamed ankles.
“Afterwards the risk of frostbite with sodden feet and hands made the sight of a checkpoint teepee with hot water and fire particularly welcome.
“On the last night in our giant teepee, I was left with a lasting image.
“As I braved the -26 degree temperature to go outside I noticed the tall wig-wam shape of the teepee glowing red from the heat of the fire inside, and overhead the very distinct constellation of The Great Bear in a clear sky and the wavering green gleam of the Northern Lights as others slept inside.
“This image made the whole experience worthwhile. I’m so proud of myself for raising money for Alzheimer’s Research UK.”
Rebecca Futrall, Regional Fundraising Officer for Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:
“Caroline is a true inspiration.
“She bravely took on this challenge to raise vital money and awareness for Alzheimer’s Research UK after her father developed the condition, leaving her mother a full-time carer. We are all so proud and grateful for what Caroline has achieved.”
To donate to Caroline’s challenge go to https://www.justgiving.com/Caroline-Richards8/
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