thumbnail Technician completes Arctic challenge

Newcastle University technician Tim Williamson has completed one of the most gruelling challenges on the planet.

Tim, who works in the Institute of Cellular Medicine, was the youngest and only British competitor of the 24 ultra athletes who entered the Yukon Challenge, a 300 mile race across the frozen arctic.

He managed to finish 2nd, with only 4 people actually managing to complete the race, and one of his fellow competitors having to have his fingers amputated after developing frost bite.

He was racing for the Livestrong charity as his mother had recently been diagnosed with cancer.

The racers have to pull a sled with all their food, drink and shelter along the route.

Tim said: “It turns out I completed the last 80 miles on a stress fracture of my right tibia with massive tendon damage. Due to my stubbornness to carry on, full recovery may never take place and I may have a slight permanent limp.

“I also got frostnip in my fingertips from the first 2 cold nights we had and my lips got frostbitten a bit. My tongue blistered up from the cold air which also attacked my airways. Other than that, I’m ok.

“All the time I had to use quite a lot of initiative. For the last 30 miles my leg was pure agony so I wrapped my bedroll tight around it and shoved a stick down there to act as a makeshift splint.

“Some of the toughest, most experienced athletes on the planet sponsored by companies like Subaru, Skandia, Total and Montane were in that race. Meanwhile little old me who had never gone further north than Scotland before took them on and for a moment – just a tiny moment – people began to believe again in the story of David and Goliath. A shopkeeper in Oxford was screaming at his computer screen at 3am, willing me on. Kids from my local primary school cheered as I overtook one of France’s great ultra-runners.

“My family didn’t know I was in the race, found out halfway through and my 5 brothers who haven’t been under the same roof for years, crowded round the same screen in disbelief at what they were seeing. I think that’s my proudest achievement.”

For Tim’s next challenge he is planning to take on the North Pole speed record attempt next year.


published on: 21st March 2012