A British dad-of-two who attempted ‘the coldest marathon in the world’ faces life with half a foot after minus 54 temperatures left him with severe frostbite.
Nick Griffiths was forced to pull out on the second day due of the gruelling ‘ultramarathon’ in Canada which follows the Yukon Quest Trail.
He was left with fourth degree burns on his left foot and could lose all of his toes after being put in intensive care following the treacherous sub-zero expedition.
Doctors told the 46-year-old that his frostbite ‘is as bad as it gets’ as he had to forfeit the event at the second checkpoint as burns began to set in on his hands and face.
Ex-Royal Marine Nick, of Bolton, Grtr Mancs., said: “When I got to hospital I wasn’t particularly worried and the doctor came in and had a look.
“But he said ‘you have third or fourth degree frost bite and this is as bad as it gets – you are going to lose some or all of your toes’.”
The race, which involves pulling a sledge and camping, started on February 1 and Nick made it safely to the first checkpoint at the marathon mark the same afternoon.
As the first night approached, the married father-of-two realised he needed to head back to the sledge he was pulling to get some food and drink before getting in to his sleeping bag.
**WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES**
After four hours he set off again, heading for the next checkpoint which was at around 60 miles into the 300 mile course.
But he realised that he was developing frostbite on his nose, ears and on his hands.
Mr Griffiths said: “I was having problems with my hands – I knew deep down that would be the end of my race and I was mostly just disappointed.”
He arrived at the second checkpoint and medics started to examine his frostbite at around 3pm on February 2.
He then faced a two-hour journey on the back of a snowmobile to a main road where he was picked up in a truck and taken to nearby Whitehorse hospital – which gave him a new drug to treat frostbite.
Nick was put in intensive care because of the affects of the drugs and spent the five days in hospital.
He now faces an anxious wait after returning home on Saturday (Feb 10) to see if the pioneering treatment has worked.
Speaking about the incident, Nick said: “My feet now look like a complete mess – I have just got to wait and see.”
“The race has been going for years and they have never had conditions this bad – everything was just freezing and even the snowmobiles stopped working.
“I think it could have been a lot worse – there could have been a fatality, it is that cold.”
Adding: “You are out alone in the wilderness.”
Nick, who rowed the Atlantic in 2014, says a heightened humidity made things worse for the competitors this year.
He said: “I think it was 80 per cent humidity – It looked like it was raining but it was just ice crystals in the air.
“You have ice blocks forming on your eyes – all the moisture in your eyes froze.
“You are trying to pull the ice off and you are pulling all your eyelashes off instead.”
The marathon follows the Yukon Quest Trail which cuts across 300 miles of the Canadian wilderness in North America.
It was so tough that only one contestant out of the 21 people who took part in event earlier this month managed to finish.
While race temperatures are usually between minus 40 degrees and zero for the event, this year’s saw ‘unprecedented’ cold of around minus 54 recorded by some competitors.