I’d had a competition like that on my mind for a couple of seasons by then. I was filled with doubts if I could manage in the cold and snow, if I was prepared for such conditions. After all, it wasn’t a run for 2-3 hours, but for 30-40, runners were to be self-reliant. Finally, I found Rovaniemi 150 on the 21st – 23rd February with winter conditions. I decided to participate and see how my body would react for a few hours run under adverse conditions. The required equipment, checked a day before the run, included a gas stove, a pot, a lighter, a sleeping mat, a sleeping bag with parameters up to -30 C comfort (borrowed from Michał Olbycki), and a sleigh that could be rented from the organizers.
Saturday, the 22nd of February, 8 AM sharp, the participants start to gather at the starting line. Everyone reports to the organizer’s, signs a paper before the start. 9 o’clock and there we went, all three groups – runners, skiers and cyclists, we all started the race, the self-reliant adventure.
The map suggested that the route would be relatively flat and the terrain rises – mild. It turned out that it was flat only if you ran on the frozen river or lake on short parts of the route. There were more higher grounds than the map showed. A few times I’d slide down the hill on the sleigh instead of running, just as if I was a kid. Two parts of the route were tough, we had to run through some bushes, the sleigh would fall repeatedly, we’d have to detach the belt and put the sleigh back on its “feet”. In my case it was quite a difficulty and a waste of time, but on the whole route it happened about 100 times.
On the route there was also a bridge across a rushing stream. The organizer said that a year before one of the contestants fell into the water and had to give up the rest of the race. To avoid the same fate, I crossed the ice-covered bridge walking backwards on my knees, pulling the sleigh. I succeeded. At the 80th km in the 24th hour there was a checkpoint providing the best chance to rest. I felt excellent, I ate, had a drink and moved on, but after just two hours in rather unfavourable conditions, -20 C thanks to the wind chill, I started to feel tired and sleepy. Thankfully it caught me on a beaten path where I’d often hunt hares.
Two, maybe three times I wandered off the route. The first two times cost me 5 extra kilometres, looks like I can never get enough. The third time had physiological causes, which weren’t fulfilled anyway because the snow was thigh-deep. I had to crawl out of it and relieve myself into a “loo” dug and buried with my shoe.
The last checkpoint at the 140th km was closing in together with the finish line. Only 10-11 km remained – so close yet so far. I could already see the high arch of the bridge behind which the finish line was waiting. I was trying to run, walk, reach the checkpoint as fast as I could, but the arch didn’t appear any closer. Two Finnish skiers accompanied me at that point until we were approached by Kamil who had been posting all the news on Facebook.
When I finished the race I was extremely glad that I made it in time and without any problems. Only after I got home I learned that I was 4th in the open men’s category. It surprised me as I wasn’t fighting for a better score, but with myself, my weaknesses and the route itself. I’d also like to thank Gosia Śmieszek and Kamil Jagodziński for the warm welcome and help during my stay in Rovaniemi, inov-8 for the gear and Michał Olbrycki for the sleeping bag.