Austin Jarrett, Managing Director of Staffordshire based manufacturer Allett Mowers, has returned from the Arctic, the location of his latest challenge, a 230km self-supported foot race.
The ICE Ultra Marathon is a 5 stage, 230 km extreme stage race across UNESCO World Heritage sites, Swedish Lapland and the Arctic Circle. The course crosses through terrain ranging from ice forests to frozen lakes, mountain ranges and snowfields. It is one of the few multi-stage, self-supported Arctic footraces in the world with temperatures normally reaching -30oC. While competitors must carry all of the clothing they need for racing, their food, snowshoes and their medical equipment, the organisers transport the heavy-duty, bulky items - such as sleeping bag and warm camp clothing - in between campsites at the finish line each day.
Having competed in the Sahara Desert and the Amazon rainforest in similar races with some success the opportunity came up to compete in Beyond the Ultimate's ICE Ultra Marathon in February 2016.
Austin, 51, says "I knew I had to do this race. Having conquered desert and jungle ultra marathons in the last few years, I knew that an extreme cold weather race would have to be my next big challenge. Temperatures as low as minus 30oC provide a number of challenges to an ultra-runner. Great care has to be taken not to freeze in your own sweat, and breathing heavily while running can cause throat and lung problems. Additionally, proper care needs to be taken to keep fingers, ears and nose covered or frostbite can strike with irreversible results".
"The Arctic was surprisingly warm in mid-February this year with daytime temperatures rising to up-to -12oC. This resulted in soft trails of deep snow which was more difficult to run in than the Sahara sand dunes. None of the competitors had planned to run the whole 230 km in snowshoes, so it was quite a shock to our legs and feet! After the first 10km road section, the snowshoes were fitted and worn for the rest of the race."
"I had a great race," says Austin. "I had deliberately concentrated the previous 12 weeks' training by running for long distances along muddy footpaths, fields, forests and mountain trails at night. This put me in a strong position for slower and more difficult conditions underfoot when the Artic days are just a few hours long. I finished in second place in a small field of serious endurance athletes. It's very pleasing when a gruelling training plan pays off."
Austin runs to raise money for three charities and has raised nearly £25,000 over the last two years for:
The Eve Appeal - This is the only national gynaecological cancer research charity in the UK. They work to raise the awareness of gynaecological cancers. Major breakthroughs are already being achieved towards improving survival rates of women with gynaecological cancers through the Department's pioneering research into screening, early diagnosis and risk prediction.
Voluntary Services Overseas - Austin served with VSO in 1986/7 after leaving college at a rural school in Fiji in the South Pacific. He explains "as a VSO volunteer, you live and work alongside local professionals in developing countries, helping improve the quality of life for people who need it most".
Oak Tree Farm Rural Project - This is a charity that is based in Austin's local area. It was initially set up by a group of parents and others interested in providing another option for school leavers with a learning disability and is now a registered charity and a Company limited by Guarantee. Oak Tree Farm provides training and supported occupation for adults with learning disabilities, in a rural environment.
Austin's charity page is still open to receive donations for the work of these amazing organisations at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/IceIceJarrett.