CHEK Upside: Island teen wins Arctic ultra marathon

CHEK Upside: Island teen wins Arctic ultra marathon

As far as running races go, it’s one of the toughest in the world.

The 6633 Arctic Ultra is an ultra marathon through the frozen expanses of the Yukon, and this year 18-year-old Comox Valley resident Rio Crystal decided to take on the challenge.

“I wanted to be able to love myself, push myself and see where I can take myself in life,” says Crystal.

Crystal was inspired to enter the race after watching a YouTube video on Anders Hofman, a Danish athlete who was the first person to complete a long-distance triathlon in Antarctica.

While Crystal couldn’t afford a trip to Antarctica, he found a similar challenge and environment with the 6633 Arctic Ultra.

“It’s negative 40 degrees, at some locations you can get 100 kilometre an hour winds,” says Crystal.

“It has a 17 per cent completion rate, you have to walk or run at least 80 kilometres per day [and] on solid snow ice so it’s really tough on your joints.”

This year’s race took place on a 400 kilometre course featuring nearly 12,000 feet of elevation changes. After nearly five days of racing, Crystal not only became the first teenager to finish the race, he became the first teenager to win it.

“It still feels surreal, I think I’ll start understanding it in a little bit,” says Crystal.

“I was actually watching live, kind of watching the progress,” says Crystal’s mom Akiko Shima.

“Two minutes after he finished I saw the screen, something changed and said completed or finished [and] I’m like ‘wow he did it.'”

Not a bad accomplishment for someone who just graduated high school.

Cole SorensonCole Sorenson

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