Nome duo runs for a cause from Teller to Nome
Carol Seppilu and Tim Lemaire ran and walked the 72-mile Nome-Teller Highway over the weekend, a 19-hour marathon which included company of bears and musk oxen along with much beautiful scenery.
The long run is the first of three the pair plan for the roads of Nome. Also in the works are an 86-mile run on the Kougarok Road and a run to Council. But they are not running the grueling miles for the fun of it. Seppilu said at the end of the run in Nome that she wanted to raise awareness for all the suicides in the region. “It’s very high and I believe we need inspiration and we need a lot of prayer,” she said. “I often pray.” She is herself the survivor of an attempted suicide when she was a teenager and she still struggles with depression and dark thoughts. “I wanted to pray across our land and show people that you can keep going even when it’s painful. And this run was very, very painful. It was hard.”
Tim Lemaire is a physician at Norton Sound Health Corporation. His wife Burr drove the runners to Teller and then stopped every five to ten miles along the road to feed the two. “And I kept an eye on the wildlife,” she said. “I saw a mom with three cubs.” She warned the runners of the bears. “I think the mom must have spooked one of the musk ox. It was charging right at Tim and Carol.” When the charging musk ox reached the SUV driven by Burr, it stopped. “We saw fox, ptarmigan, lots of musk ox along the way.”
Tim ate a lot of quesadillas and what Burr terms “running fuel food.” Carol ate corned beef and both drank a lot of water and sports drinks. The longest break was Tim’s minute and a half to slurp down some Top Ramen Burr had cooked for him. They did not use bug dope.
“It was pretty uneventful up until between mile ten and nine,” said Seppilu. “A musk ox was coming right at us and we moved away. I thought it was going to charge us.”
Waiting at the finish line in Nome were Carol’s parents, her niece and her dog Solar. “Hearing Solar bark for me when she saw me made me run the last little uphill,” she said. “Solar was the first one I went to and told her I wished she had been out there with me.”
“I PR’d my 50 mile and 100K times and it was his first time going over 50,” posted Seppilu later online. “He is amazing! I’m so blessed to have found a friend who will go far with me. Memories made! It was so painful but worth it. Our slowest mile was just over 25 minutes and our fastest mile was done at mile 58 and it was 10:38, followed by the second fastest right after that. The heat was unbearable! It felt close to 70 out in the country. But I was so amazed at the wind! It stayed on our backs the entire time, and it felt like the Lord was pushing us to keep moving forward.”
Seppilu recounts how they started at 9:30 in Nome and driving out to Teller. The run began on the sand spit where she dipped herself in the ocean water to stay cool. They hit the halfway mark eight hours into the run. There were people stopping to cheer them on and shoot photos. “The country is magnificent especially as the sun began setting to the North behind us after midnight,” wrote Seppilu. “We reached 50 miles in 12.5 hours just before Cripple River. My legs and feet were hurting by then, but my spirit was still strong. We were walking a lot and I was doing my best to go faster. At mile 57 I turned on some motivational talks and ran. I didn’t think about the pain and I didn’t want to stop.”
Tim’s wife Burr appeared when the bears were close by. That’s when the musk ox made his charge. “I told Tim we have to back away and we crossed to the other side of the road calmly,” wrote Seppilu. “I hid behind him fearing the worst as I prepared my hiking poles to take the hit. The musk ox huffed while looking at us straight in the eye and continued running forward. It was running away from the bears that disappeared into the dark bushes. I told Tim that we will be going into the truck if we spot the bears. It was a scary walk and we saw them, eating their fresh kill that I can smell not far off. Mama bear watched us closely and I kept an eye on her as we walked, the truck still next to us. I prayed fervently. We made it out of danger and soon came into town in Nome.”