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Dean Clifford takes part in Ultra Marathon in northern Canada
IF you’ve been shivering during York’s recent cold snap, spare a thought for Dean Clifford.
The York plumber is set to brave temperatures as low as minus 40C when he sets off on a punishing 350-mile race across the Arctic Circle next week.
Dean, 40, of Tang Hall, will have to complete about 45 miles a day, pulling provisions such as food, cooking items, clothing, sleeping kit and other safety gear on a sledge, during the eight-day 3366 Ultra Marathon in northern Canada.
He says he is at risk both of frostbite and hallucinations in the race, which has only been completed by seven people in the last five years.
“My family think I’m mad,” said Dean, who is married to Sarah and has a daughter Ebony, 17, and a son, Harvey, eight.
Race organisers say the race can ‘quite genuinely claim to be the toughest, coldest and windiest extreme ultra marathon on the planet,’ adding: “This race is only for big boys and girls unless you’re mad.”
But Mr Clifford, who has been treated for cancer diagnosed in 2010, already has some experience of crazy challenges in extreme temperatures.
He completed the equally gruelling Marathon Des Sables in the Sahara Desert last year, which involved five marathons in six days in temperatures as high as 52C.
His forthcoming race will take the Dempster Highway route, part of it an ice road used in winter by truckers servicing the oil industry, which has been featured in the Channel 5 TV programme Ice Road Truckers. He said his sledge, made of tough industrial plastics and aluminium, had been constructed free by Tadweld of Tadcaster.
Dean, who works for Alwyn Glover (York) Ltd, said he and about 30 other competitors, many of them British, would set off on the race together next Wednesday, but would rapidly become separated.
There will be checkpoints every 50 or 90 miles or so, but he can expect to go for a whole day without seeing another human being.
The race goes from Eagle Plains, Yukon, to the banks of the Arctic Ocean at Tuktoyaktuk. The race name, 6633, relates to the latitude of the Arctic Circle in degrees and minutes.