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ice-capade Kerry man hikes 300 miles across arctic Canada to win one of world's toughest races

Kevin Leahy (37) faced down wild cats and wolves, and narrowly avoided frostbite to win the Montana Yukon Arctic Race

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Kevin Leahy

Kevin Leahy

Kevin Leahy

An Irishman has just walked 300 miles across snowbound Canadian wilderness, slept in -30 degree conditions, faced down wild cats and wolves, and narrowly avoided frostbite to win one of the worlds toughest races.

And to top off the madness he forked out over €2000 to do it and ended up with just a medal to show for it.

Kevin Leahy, (37), from Killarney won the Montana Yukon Arctic Race after taking just over five days to complete the round trip which began on February 3rd in Whitehorse, in the Yukon area of Canada and ended when he dragged his sled across the finishing line in the early hours of February 9th.

He was the first to finish the event on foot, the only entrants to complete the trek before him all used bikes.

He told the Sunday World, ‘I wouldn’t plead guilty to insanity but there is certainly a form of madness involved, basically I just like the adventure.

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Kevin Leahy

Kevin Leahy

Kevin Leahy

‘It cost me €1800 to enter and another €600 in flights but it was worth it when I won.

‘It’s even tougher than it sounds when you read about it, the very first night and the second day were the hardest, I didn’t sleep for 35 hours, that was planned because I wanted to build up a good lead.

‘When I did lie down to sleep, I found the stove I had for heat wouldn’t work properly and at that point I nearly jacked it in but there’s a determination in me not to be beaten so I carried on.

‘I had a tent, a sleeping mat and a good sleeping bag but when it is -30 outside the tent they only offer you minimal protection.

‘I knew I had got a good start ahead of the field and that drove me on, there were two checkpoints each day at which they made sure you were okay medically and told you what position you were in, it is amazing the adrenalin boost being told you were race leader can give you.

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‘The other thing that gave me an adrenalin rush, of a different sort, was when I saw wolf tracks alongside where I was walking.

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Kevin Leahy

Kevin Leahy

Kevin Leahy

‘I didn’t get to see any wolves but the tracks were fesh so thank God they weren’t hungry, I did come face to face with some wild cats but they backed off, since I got back people keep asking me if I saw any bears but sure bears have more sense than to be out in those conditions they sleep through the winter.

‘I ended up winning by 18 hours so I’m happy with that.’

And in the manner of his county team winning All Ireland’s once kit seems is not enough for Leahy.

‘There’s another ultra marathon on in Sweden in two weeks and that’s my next race, it’ll be just as cold and tough but look I am used to it now.’

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