Previous Greenland Odyssey posts :
Day of attrition – the remains of the day
MFU and pull up your big girl pants
What had happened to me? Had I gone soft over the last two years? Where was my strength, my determination? Why was I so frustrated and angry?
I realised it was a sly misplaced sense of guilt. The negative voice in my head making me feel like a fraud because there was so little running. But there was no dishonour in that. I was moving across the terrain as fast as I could, as fast as nature would permit; nature was not allowing easy passage today, she was making me work hard for my goal. I dug deep and turned my negativity into resolve. There would be no quitting. I stepped out of my nappy and pulled on my big girl pants.
Ken decided he was done but Jenny wanted to continue. But it was not that simple was it. Another change of plan. The ford over to the headland was in flood and impassable and the top end of the headland too wet to cross. The boat took us over and we would add the required distance. Instead of a loop we would go out and back.
The terrain on this headland was a mix of tundra, small bays and from about half way down long tables of rock that we could run over. The beaches had to be approached with caution thanks to the pools of clay mud cunningly disguised as sand. There was a scattering of picturesque brightly coloured huts. There were seams of quartz through the rock. I realised that the vast amount small droppings and burrows were evidence of arctic hares, but they were being elusive, or my superpower was on the wane.
The fiord was calm and still. The gentle lapping on the shore and the cry of seabirds our soundtrack. A quiet calm settled within me. Raging against the terrain and getting frustrated was a waste of energy. I spent an inordinate amount of time calculating and re-calculating that 72k was the turning point. We might not need to do any laps of the camp area.
I had lost all track of time, vaguely aware of the passing hours from the ebb and flow of the tides. The only hint that we were running into and through the night was a subtle change in the light and the drop in temperature. The cold was bad news for Jenny and her asthma kicked off. She struggled on for a while before being forced to stop and get on the boat. I continued, bouncing along the rock shelves, rounding the tip and made a start on the other side. Here I started to ascend back into the tundra. It was around 65k.
I stopped. I just couldn’t face it. With hindsight I should have had the mental presence to persevere or least have asked the guys in the boat to go ahead and recce, because I suspect it would have been the better option. But no, I radioed over to say that I was turning. Some way into the return I stopped for some hot noodles, (the last of my supplies), and Jenny decided to re-join me. She was cold sitting in the boat and needed to move.
Eventually we arrived back to a sleeping camp. I threw up noisily on the beach. There was really nothing to come up. There was still close to 20k to go. We started on the soulless torture of 2k laps around the edges of the isthmus between the fiord and the lake.
Jenny wisely did not tarry long keen to get it over and done with. That few extra minutes that I took allowed stiffness to set in. I set out literally bent double and hobbling like Methuselah. Falling asleep on my feet I used coke and coffee to keep me going. Amazingly my wildlife spotting superpower had not abandoned me though. I heard and then spotted more musk-ox on the hills behind the lake.
Finally, some-time after 9am, having added the distance for the boat crossings I staggered to halt. Too exhausted to enjoy the moment, there was no fanfare, no whoops and hollers, just relief and the still lurking spectre of failure.
No breakfast, no hot water.
I just wanted to have a sponge down, get some warm dry clothes on, eat something then curl up for a sleep. A musk ox safari was planned and I would happily miss that for some rest.
The camp, however, was being cleared down for departure. The safari was cancelled because of the flooded crossing and underfoot conditions on the headland. Breakfast was done and packed away. There was no hot water for washing. A dicht with some wet wipes and the remains of the run supplies had to suffice. I tugged on my dry clothes but somehow could not get warm.
I think the whole camp was glad to see the boat return, not just the runners. Bags were loaded in super quick time, everyone piled on and made for the shelter of the cabin. It was a quiet and subdued journey back to town.
The first thing I did was go upstairs to see Alasdair. He was feeling much better, almost brand new. The isolation had not been too onerous and having company had helped. He had discovered a new culinary skill: cooking the perfect musk-ox steak. It was time to make myself feel more human. I needed a shower, some food, and a lot of fluids to kick start my kidneys. Too tired to walk up to the supermarket I resorted to a ration pack mainly for the calories that it packed.
Puppy Cuddles, Greenlandic coffee & Glaciers
Some much-needed decompression.
Friday was a rest for the six of us who were staying on for two days hiking and some extra sight-seeing. The other half of the group departed early. Our covid patients were recovering well and allowed out. Alasdair and I opted for some gentle walking near the lake followed by a visit to the café, one of only two eateries in the town and which was hidden in the sports hall.
Food had been a challenge especially for the vegetarians with little food grown and a reliance on imports. Choices for eating out were limited, expensive and menus were meat heavy and often American in style. When shopping for food for the house, we quickly learned that the supermarket freezer section offered most variety. At the café we got a perfectly good coffee, pizza and chips.
Greenlanders love their dogs and there are a lot of dogs in Greenland. They are also a protected breed. In the afternoon we were taken to meet our guides’ dogs. Running is in their DNA. They love to run and do not relish their summer holidays. They bark, they loll about bored, they get fat for the winter. The females raise their pups. Cuddling these cute fluff balls had a purpose. Handling is an essential part of socialising and training them. All the dogs that I saw in Greenland were healthy and happy. Clearly well cared for. With just a single vet in Greenland this is testament to their owners.
The puppy cuddles were followed by dinner in the second eatery: the hotel restaurant. The small restaurant only opened when there were guests in the hotel and they only took non-residents if there were spare tables. After a couple of failed attempts for the whole group earlier in the week, we managed to blag a table for that evening. We had a lovely meal of local, seasonal produce accompanied by excellent locally brewed beer. The highlight of the evening was the pod of whales in the bay and the Greenlandic coffee.
Kaluha represents the beauty and women of Greenland.
Whisky represents the ruggedness and men of Greenland.
The hot coffee represents the cold winter nights when men and women come together and tell their tales.
Whipped cream represents the glaciers and icebergs.
Flaming Grand Marnier represents the glorious northern lights
Our two-day hike got cancelled. There were too many flooded crossings and the boat was not available to assist or potentially pick up our covid recoverees should they tire. It was disappointing, but we lucked out with the alternative. The ice in the fiord had cleared and we got to go to the glacier.
Kitted out with flotation suits and life vests we boarded a high -speed motor boat that sped up the length of the Tasiusak fiord to Saqqarleq glacier. The journey was exhilarating the glacier breath-taking. We landed on a small beach where we had a light picnic before traversing the moraine up onto glacier.
Every now and again we heard the boom of it cracking and the crash of a calving deep within. The glacier was a wonder of fissures and contours, texture and colour. Delicate ice, pools of melt water and veins of turquoise ice contrasted with seams grey brown grit and earth.
The already perfect day had one last treat for us. As we sailed back to Qasigiannguit we spotted a whale close by which obligingly displayed its tail.
Our time in Greenland was nearing an end. The following day we transferred back to Ilulissat for a couple of nights. We were able to go back out to isefjord and spend more time enjoying the views and trails along its perimeter as well as visit the isefjord centre to learn more about the Greenlandic nature and how the natural environment has evolved.
Dulcius ex Asperis
Sweeter after difficulties
As the days and weeks have passed, I have processed the experience in Greenland and the whole Global Odyssey 100 challenge finally realising the scale of achievement. A hard-fought achievement with some bumps and a wrong turning on the way. I can now savour it; the sour taste I ended with now sweet and satisfying.
The Global Odyssey 100 has concluded; and to my knowledge, I am the first known woman/person to complete a single stage 100k event or challenge on all seven continents.
It started in the Antarctic and finished in the Arctic and it was fitting that the last stage was the hardest and in a similarly harsh and rugged environment.
The Global Odyssey experience has pushed me to my limits, humbled me and on occasion broken me. I thank nature for allowing me the privilege of safe passage over some of the worlds less trodden paths and through the most amazing landscapes. Finally, I can say that I am proud of what I have accomploshed
The Global Odyssey Runs
Antarctic Ice 100k, 2013
Grand Raid Des Bogomiles, 2017
Global Odyssey Gobi 100k, 2018
Global Odyssey Morocco 100k, 2019
Global Odyssey Patagonia 100k, 2019
Global Odyssey New Zealand 100k, 2020
Global Odyssey Greenland 100k, 2022
The Global Odyssey Fails
Namibia 100k, 2018
Ultra Mirage el Djerid, 2018
Canadian River Valley Revenge, 2019