The last blog ended with Rob leaving Braeburn. We had been snoozing for an hour or so while Rob slept but not really sleeping at all.
We knew at this stage that for all but the first four the finish had moved to Takhini Hot Springs, 30 miles north of Whitehorse, because the integrity of the ice on the river was causing the officials concern. Our plan was to get back to Rob and Louise’s cabin at Carcross, to get some sleep and head back to Takhini Hot Springs, where the finish would now take place for every one after Matt Hall had come home in fourth place.
Rob left around 2am. We cleared straw at Braeburn at record speed, packed up and headed back to Carcross. Despite our haste it was 5am by the time we pulled in to the cabin on Thursday morning.
The temperature gauge in the car said -23c and the cabin hadn’t been occupied for a week. It was cold. This was the one opportunity on this trip that the special sleeping bag I bought that is rated to -25c to come into its own and it did. As every one has told me I’ve had it easy this year with nothing lower than -30c but going to sleep at -23c is a worry.
We all kept pretty much all our clothes on. I just dispensed with my boots and parka. I pulled the bag hood over my head and for the first time in my life I thought “I actually could die here”. I’m sure those of you used to living in Alaska and the Yukon think that’s funny and are used to it but for a soft British bloke not used to these conditions it is a real concern.
Louise was using the sofa and thought the same thing but we all made sure we were as warm as possible and when the alarm went off at 9am we were all ready to get up.
It had warmed a little. We cleared the van of drop bags, unnecessary clothing, computers and in fact everything that wasn’t needed at the finish. We were at Takhini by 10:30 to find that the coffee shop was shut. The concept of no coffee now after two weeks of sitting round and drinking it continuously is pretty alien to me now. I started to twitch. Fortunately the Northern Bean five minutes down the road opened at 9am so we were able to go and spend an hour waiting for Rob in there, watching the tracker, seeing him get closer and closer to the finish line. We went back to the finish chute around 12:00 and waited. And waited.
A big crowd had gathered to see the local man and possibly the most beautiful team in the race finish. Colleagues were there. Marshall’s were there. A disproportionate number of vets were there.
Rob’s colleagues had brought along the now infamous climate change picture Mark Gillett had taken of Rob and Judy Beaumont welcomed him home.
What was clear was that he was finding the last few miles tough going even though the tracker suggested it was all down hill. And then in he came.
I unfortunately have no photos of him crossing the line as although the shutter clicked when I checked back there were no photos. I do have nice pictures though of the the dogs, so happy to reach the finish. Of Chris and Louise so pleased to see them all. And of Rob, just relieved to get another finish under his belt. The team as usual just looked great. Rob looked and was exhausted. We were relieved to see him. The photos, the interviews, feeding the team and packing to go home were all a blur.
We all went for a celebratory dinner and then Rob went to a hotel in Whitehorse to get a decent shower and a good night’s sleep to recover.
The rest of us returned to the cabin, lighted the fire and resolved not to freeze tonight.
And then it was over………
Of course it wasn’t. More to follow.