The longest unsupported Polar Expedition in History
In partnership with Chillisauce - British Ultra-runner Tim Williamson is attempting to become the first person ever to walk to and from the North Pole, solo and unsupported. This is a trek so arduous, so demanding that nobody in the history of polar expeditions has even contemplated undertaking it and will make it the longest unsupported polar expedition in History.
About the expedition
About Tim Williamson
Interview with Tim
Two weeks after competing in Canada’s 300 mile Yukon Ultramarathon, getting a stress fracture and coming second in the process, Tim Williamson is incredibly already preparing to undertake another adventure, and this time it's a world record. Next year he will attempt to create the world record for a solo, unsupported walk to the North Pole. In 2005 there was a supported dog sled team which made the journey in just 36 days. Tim plans to break that record on foot and when you consider he’s an injured bloke on the sofa, that’s fighting talk. Chillisauce spoke to him about ball ache and Barry Manilow.
Chillisauce: So Tim did you think your very first attempt would work out as well as it did?
Tim Williamson: I had always dreamed of finishing in the top three and I really wanted to win most of all but let's face it; it was never going to happen. I only came 2nd because I fought so hard to get to the front and stay there.
CS: Did you ever think at any point ‘this was a really bad idea’?
TW: There were a number of times I thought that. The most striking was when I had climbed into my sleeping bag. I think it was the fifth night. I ached all over; my legs ached, my hips ached, my neck ached, even my balls ached for some unknown reason. And I thought 'you could have put a deposit down on a nice flat or bought a nice car but you had to spend it on the most ridiculous way to get a ball ache.'
CS: What was the longest sleep you managed?
TW: The longest I got was 5 hours. The shortest was just 2 hours. It was a fine line to tread because too little sleep and I’d risk mental and physical exhaustion. Too much and I’d lose valuable time in the race.
CS: Did you have any really annoying recurring thoughts in your head?
TW: Sometimes without thinking I would replay the distance to the next checkpoint in my head. It got so annoying that about halfway to the checkpoint at McCabe Creek, I suddenly belted out the tune to ‘Can’t smile without you’ by Barry Manilow just to stop thinking about it all.
CS: How did you feel at the end?
TW: I felt pretty terrible because my leg was in a lot of pain and I badly needed sleep. At the same time I was over the moon that I had managed it and achieved 2nd place. A piece of me will always be linked with the race and even now I’d like to compete in it again one day.
CS: What was the most difficult part of the race?
TW: There was a moment at Carmacks checkpoint when I was a bit hesitant at going back out into the cold. Diane Patrick, who is the heart and soul of the race, told me bluntly ‘you’re wearing the Union Jack – get out there!’ My leg was a throbbing mass of pain and I could only manage a few steps at a time. I had sacrificed too much and fought too hard to give up so I hunted in my sled to find something to make a splint out of. I pulled out my bedroll and wrapped it tight around my lower leg, tying it with a spare shoelace. Sticking a small tree-branch down it for rigidity, I was able to limp on to the finish.
CS: How effective do you think your training back home had been?
TW: Well I finished 2nd so it must have done some good! In hindsight, if I’d backed off the miles I ran in training, maybe my legs would have been fresher and I may never have had that injury which slowed me down. I guess we’ll never know.
CS: At what point did you think ‘I know, I’ll go to the North Pole next year’?
TW: It was the first night after I finished the race. I was lying in my sleeping bag on the hard floor of the storage room trying to get to sleep. Out in the main hall I could hear the media guys talking to each other about the dog sled teams and how fast they travelled. Listening to this I asked myself whether a human being could outrun a dog sled team. I knew the North Pole Speed Record had been made with dogs. Right there and then I told myself I would try and break that record.
CS: So when does the prep start for next year’s record attempt?
TW: it’s already started! Until my leg fully heals, I can only plan at this stage. I can’t wait to be able to blow the cobwebs away and go out for a 5 mile run. But for now I’m simply enjoying having my social life back.
CS: And Chillisauce plan to be there every step of the way. Metaphorically speaking.