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Michaela Pye eager to test her mettle with ultramarathon through White Mountains in Alaska

Deer Lake native Michaela Pye, a part-time environmental science student at Grenfell Campus in Corner Brook, is looking forward to participating in an ultramarathon through the White Mountains in Alaska in March.
Deer Lake native Michaela Pye, a part-time environmental science student at Grenfell Campus in Corner Brook, is looking forward to participating in an ultramarathon through the White Mountains in Alaska in March. - Submitted

Michaela Pye is game for anything that allows her to enjoy a challenge of outdoor pursuits.

The 22-year-old Deer Lake native loves to check out the terrain of mountain bike trails.

She loves to tackle the fresh powder of Marble Mountain on her skis.

She is a mountaineering enthusiast who lists rock climbing as one of her favourite things to do.

She’s also added running to her list of things that she pursues in an effort to improve her physical fitness over the past few years.

“I’m a bit of an adrenaline junkie, I guess,” Pye said with a hearty chuckle Monday.

Pye’s next venture into the wilderness will come in the form of her second ultramarathon.

A part-time environmental science student at Grenfell Campus, Pye, who now lives in Corner Brook, is one of 87 people who will participate in an ultramarathon in Alaska in March.

It will be only her second ultramarathon since she began running three years ago. She completed the East Coast Trail Ultramarathon in St. John’s in October, but her venture through the White Mountains of Alaska will be a tougher test, with temperatures dipping to the -20 to -40 range when she takes on the challenge.

She will try to complete the 100-mile journey in the 40-hours allotted for runners before they are disqualified from the race.

She had to apply for one of the 87 open spots for the race. Initially, she was disappointed because she didn’t get a spot and she was left with little hope when she found herself 121st on the waiting list.

But then a sponsor for the event asked her if she was interested in accepting one of their open spots, and she quickly grabbed it.

Alaska was appealing to her because she had checked out the terrain there a few years ago when she participated in a student exchange through Grenfell Campus.

“It’s one of the hardest and most harsh landscapes I’ve ever been in,” she said. “It’s a challenging place to try and be an outdoor person, so I was pretty excited to try one there because an ultramarathon is tricky, and then there’s the added challenge of the elements of it being March in Alaska.”

She admits there is always the fear of not being able to complete the mission because it is a fairly challenging task ahead of her, but she insists the excitement of finding out if she can handle it outweighs anything that would deter her from taking it on. She’s going to prepare herself the best way she can and soak up all the advice she received from others on how to approach the race.

“There’s not a lot of fear. It’s mostly excitement,” she said.

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