She arrived in Levajok with eight healthy and happy dogs all eating well and free from injury, but due to storm conditions, high winds and 50cm of fresh, wet snow on the toughest mountain stage between Levajok and Skogavarre, it was decided in the best interests of both dogs and her own safety to retire.
Emma was more than happy to continue, but felt the yearlings on the team needed more time before heading out to face such extreme conditions.
“My decision to scratch was an easy one when I arrived at Levajok checkpoint,” said Emma.
“The couple of teams ahead were waiting for us, so we could head out together at 5am the next day as this was our only opportunity during a break in the storm to climb the toughest leg of the race over the mountain to Skoganvarre as safely as possible.
“It was not meant to be. The local trail breakers on snow scooters had just got back from checking on a musher stuck at the top who was an experienced Bear Grylls type. He took 16 hours to complete the leg and another team had returned defeated by the conditions.
“They reported the trail markers had been blown away in 20 metres-a-second wind (60 mph) and half-a-metre of snow had fallen covering the trail and rain had started making it very soft - a bit like a sandy beach but we call it sugary snow.
“This was not going to be a positive experience for the dogs mentally, let alone the risk of us being blown off our feet. The other teams decided to scratch and I felt there was always another day to conquer this mountain in more relatively safe conditions.”
As a rookie of the race she started with a mix of excitement and nervous energy.
“I was nervous in case I couldn't live up to my dogs’ expectations of communication and care.
“As we got further into the race, I was on a steep learning curve, which I haven’t begun to start to process until now when I look back at my fantastic experience.
“The arctic landscape was amazing. Sledding by moonlight with a Northern Lights show all around me, I realised we were being tracked by a wolf, which was slightly un-nerving as it was only then, the realisation hit that we were, indeed, all alone in this vast space.”
“After the race, my initial reflection was positive and mainly concentrated on what impact the chronic conditions had on me and how I can better prepare to manage my physical and cognitive flaws in the future.”
Emma’s trek is made more amazing by the fact that she suffers Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Emma was diagnosed with the condition after she had entered for the race, but decided to carry it through after taking part in an unassisted qualifying event of 220km to prove to herself she was able to complete the race in one piece.
“With the support of my business sponsors, friends and family, all my equipment was specially adapted and race plans were adjusted to help me take part.”
In recognition if her condition she has taken the opportunity to raise funds for the for the Fibromyalgia Association UK, a charity which strives to improve the treatment options for sufferers. She has so far raised £127.50, including Gift Aid.
If you would like to donate you can still do so by going to her fundraising page at http://tinyurl.com/184ntag