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To Tuk and back on foot
Famous runner is recruiting to help homeless shelter

Kira Curtis
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, February 24, 2011

INUVIK - Having run through the searing heat of the desert, extreme ultra marathon runner Alicja Barahona wants to face the frigid temperatures of the Mackenzie River ice road.

NNSL photo/graphic

Polish-born ultra marathon runner Alicja Barahona will run from Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk and back April 7 to 10 to raise money for the Inuvik Homeless Shelter. - photo courtesy of Alicja Barahona

She plans to run more than 360 km - from Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk and back - between April 7 and 10.

Inspired by the extreme passion Barahona brings to every adventure she tries in life, the Inuvik Run Club is not only organizing the Polish-born athlete's trip, but getting into the endurance spirit as well.

"It's raised the enthusiasm of the running community in this town for sure," said Lavona Clarke, one of the run club organizers, adding she is amazed at the number of people she has seen out training this winter.

"There's so many of them who have been running in -30 C, -35 C weather."

Along with being an amazing physical feat - it's the equivalent of running almost nine back-to-back marathons - the act will raise money and supplies much-needed by the Inuvik Homeless Shelter.

The Inuvik Run Club asked for applications from organizations around town and from those, chose the shelter as the most suitable recipient for donations.

Barahona has been training for the run from her home in New York. On Monday, Feb. 21, she ran 82 kilometres, but even with a dump of snow falling over the Big Apple, there's nothing that can prepare her for the climate of Canada's Arctic.

She recalls on a race in Alaska, her sled broke and she took her gloves off for a few minutes to fix it and lost all feeling in her hand, so she sat down to rest and warm her hands up.

"It just felt so nice," she said with a dreamy tone that quickly changes, "but the second part of the brain said 'No way. Don't sit down. Start jumping. Start warming up your hands.' I know that in a matter of minutes you can feel so nice and so comfy and just drift into sleep and never ever wake up."

This experience helped Barahona relate to the importance of having a sustainable homeless shelter and soup kitchen in Inuvik - a place for people to keep warm in such dangerous weather.

"There are no options, there has to be shelter," Barahona said.

Clarke said she's excited about the run club's plan to have people pay to run with the world-famous long-distance runner. The charge will be $1 per kilometre run, and if you want to pay not to run, well that's fine, too.

"It's to get the community involved and to have people who are willing to go and have sections with her," Clarke said then chuckled, "and we're gonna make them pay to run."

Though Clarke is not an outdoor runner - she goes to the gym to run - her husband is planning to run 30 km with Barahona - which counts for her share.

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