Words by Jacob Warner
It’s April 2015 and ultrarunner Mel Gosse is halfway through the inaugural Ultra Fiord, a gruelling 100 km race in Patagonia. Arriving at a checkpoint and nursing a foot injury, she and her husband Jon decide to call the race quits. They’d endured hours of sledging through knee deep mud on a cold mountainside with neck high glacial rivers to boot. “We were frozen, out of food, and out of water,” Gosse recalls.
The scene at the halfway checkpoint is bleak. Departing runners are turning back after finding the route ahead blocked by avalanches and those who do continue are being forced to jump over crevasses in order to proceed. “People were getting lost on the glacier,” Gosse continues, “we had one runner who was hypothermic, but there were no doctors, and the volunteers couldn’t contact the race director for help.”
“The scene at the halfway checkpoint is bleak. Departing runners are turning back after finding the route ahead blocked by avalanches…”
Fast forward to the 2016 edition of the race. Under similar freezing conditions on the mountain an experienced Mexican ultrarunner, Arturo Rueda, is reported missing. As rumours begin to spread amongst the finishing runners, everyone fears the worst. Later, the heartbreaking news is confirmed – Rueda has died from hypothermia.