A couple of months ago, we shared the exciting news that McLaren Manchester would be sponsoring Hayley White as she took on the world’s most extreme ultra-distance footrace, the 6633 Arctic Ultra. Now we’re proud to announce that Hayley is one of the few – and the only female – that have successfully completed the event!
It’s a fearsome event, the 6633 Arctic Ultra, putting competitors on a none-stop 380-mile self-supported footrace whilst also battling 70mph winds, unforgiving terrain and temperatures that drop to minus 40 degrees centigrade. In fact, it’s so grueling that 75% of competitors drop out before the finish – last year, only six of the 23 starters actually finished. Having completed the race for Mind Mental Health Charity, Hayley is now home from her incredible feat. McLaren Manchester caught up with her to see exactly what it was like.
Hi Hayley, firstly we'd like to say congratulations! How did you find it?
Thank you! It was incredibly tough to say the least. I always thought it would be a tricky, but until you’re there and fighting for it you don’t realise just how tough. It’s tough returning to reality, I’ve had a lot of interrupted sleep and waking up in sweats, but I’m getting there.
How did it feel crossing the finish line?
I was so exhausted physically, mentally and emotionally, that I honestly don't really remember it. I’ve completed various other ultra-distance races, and whenever I’ve finished there has been a huge emotional outburst, but this time there was absolutely nothing. I don’t think it’s quite sunk in yet!
Over the 380 miles, what was the most challenging moment?
On day four I got caught out on a snow storm when I was trying to get an hour’s sleep in. I lost the feeling in my fingers and I thought I was starting to get hypothermia, so I was forced to leave after 20 minutes just to warm up,I was exhausted. Fortunately, other than that, the weather was pretty kind to us – in previous races it’s been minus 70, but it was a lot milder for us.
How do you get through those moments?
I ended up running the race alongside another competitor, Mark Whittle. We never intentionally ended to pair up, but after the second day we realised it made sense. I think the whole experience would have been a lot scarier without him, because there's a lot of periods where you are on your own, it’s very dark, and you end up hallucinating, so having Mark there was very reassuring.
What did you eat during the race?
I was consuming about 8000 calories a day, so it had to be quick calories, that didn't freeze, and weren’t too heavy. It ranged from dried meals that I added hot water to, to quick-intake food like cheese, chocolate, shortbread, etc. I went through 27 bars of chocolate, five packs of peanut M&Ms, six bags of Jelly Babies, three bags of Dolly Mixtures, Smarties... you name it, I ate it!
Do you have any highlights?
The highlight for me, actually, was when we’d finished, and we were driven back to Eagle Plains. We’d previously stayed there the night before the race started, and there was so much nerves and anxiety then. Being back there afterwards, and knowing that we’d done it, was amazing.
Would you ever take it on again?
Never. When you’ve finished it once, you’ve done it, and it’s a long time away from the family. The great thing about having completed it is that it’s justified to myself that I am an ultra-runner, I can do this kind of challenge. There are a couple of things on the horizon, but we’ll wait and see.
Hayley’s trophy and McLaren Manchester sponsored equipment is temporarily on proud display at McLaren Manchester – make sure you stop by to take a look if you’re around. We’d like to extend a huge congratulations to Hayley for her truly astonishing achievement! Would you take on a challenge like this? We’d like to hear from you on Facebook, Instagram or Linkedin.