Derby

Derbyshire woman wins 300-mile Montane Yukon Arctic Ultra race

Marianne Heading Image copyright Montane Yukon Arctic Ultra
Image caption Marianne Heading said she was "good with the cold"

A British woman has won a 300-mile (482 km) race in freezing temperatures near the Arctic Circle.

Marianne Heading, 47, completed the Montane Yukon Arctic Ultra in Canada in about 173 hours over several days.

Competitors have to cross frozen rivers, lakes and land via a series of checkpoints over several days, with a sledge and sleeping equipment.

Ms Heading, from Ashover, Derbyshire, who first took part in the race in 2011, said winning felt "surreal".

She said temperatures plummeting to -39C (-38.2F) was not much of a problem as she was "good with the cold".

However, the "lack of snow" was the hardest part and at times she had to pull her 26kg (57 lbs) sledge, containing sleeping and cooking equipment, through moss, bushes and branches for about 70 miles (112 km).

Image copyright Montane Yukon Arctic Ultra
Image caption Marianne Heading (blue hat) at the end of the race

Ms Heading, who completed the race on Monday, said: "By the end of it my back was really hurting, so were my arms. In fact the part of my which was doing the best was my feet.

"While that was tough, you have those moments, in the sun, being in such a beautiful part of the world, and most of the time you have it to yourself."

She said a highlight was witnessing the Northern Lights as she approached a checkpoint.

Image copyright Mark Kelly Photography
Image caption Marianne Heading spent much of the time by herself

Her training consisted of Peak District runs and walks as well dragging a tyre through her village to simulate the weight of the sledge.

"I think I have gained quite a reputation for being the strange lady taking the tyre for a walk," she said.

"[Winning] is all a bit surreal. It feels like it happened to someone else - then I try to move and my body tells me it really did happen to me.

"I just wanted to finish fit and well in the time limit, so to have won my distance is amazing."

The race is billed as the world's "coldest and toughest" ultra-marathon and has been running since 2003.

Image copyright Mark Kelly Photography
Image caption After winning she said she was not sure whether she would take part in the race again

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