WHILE Worcestershire continues to battle the wind and rain, an intrepid adventurer from Upton-upon-Severn is preparing to tackle some extreme weather of another sort.
Rob Cooke, a former Upton Primary and Hanley Castle High School student who now lives in Canada, will be braving freezing temperatures as he takes on the 1,000- mile Yukon Quest in Canada – widely billed as the toughest dog sled race in the world.
Mr Cooke, age 46, and his kennel of 45 Siberian huskies have spent the winter training for the two-week event, which will see him battling temperatures of minus 60C and going up to two days at a time without seeing anyone as he mushes his way across the wilderness. Mr Cooke and his wife Louise first kept huskies when they still lived in the UK, entering them in races and even winning the best Siberian rosette at Crufts back in 2003.
Mr Cooke first went to Canada in 2005 when he sent by the Royal Navy on an exchange posting with the Canadian Airforce.
After Mr Cooke left the navy in 2008, the couple started to think about training up their own dogs to run the Yukon Quest.
They took the first steps towards making that dream a reality last winter, when Mr Cooke completed challenging 200 and 300-mile qualification races to earn the right to compete in the prestigious event.
After spending the last few months training in Whitehorse, Mr Cooke is now eagerly awaiting the extreme challenge in store when the race gets under way at the start of February.
He said: “The Yukon Quest is billed as the toughest sled dog race on earth. It takes in four major summits, including the notorious Eagle Summit that has claimed the lives of dogs in the past and almost done for a few mushers.
“Normally about 20 to 30 competitors sign up each year and only about half finish each year.
Fewer people have finished the quest than have climbed Mount Everest.”
For more information about the Yukon Quest visit yukonquest.com.