Caribou Legs Brad Firth set to run across Great Slave Lake

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Ultrarunner Brad Firth, known as Caribou Legs, is embarking Saturday on a daring run.

It's not his longest, not by far – he crossed Canada last year – but the 200 km across Great Slave Lake will be a new challenge.

"I'm Caribou Legs. I'm designed for this," he said this week, looking out across Great Slave Lake. 

"So I enjoy being out there in extreme temperatures, running these extreme distances."

The crossing is expected to take about five days, with Firth running 40-50 km (about the length of a marathon) over the frozen lake each day.

He won't be the first person to try the crossing. In 2014, David Arbeau had to be rescued after making it about 55 km across the lake on snowshoes. A year earlier, Brett Wheler had become the first person to cross-country ski solo across the lake. 

A small team of Canadian Rangers will be escorting Firth on Ski-Doos, breaking trail through snowdrifts and setting up camp each night.

"Rangers are experts on the land and can provide safety and act as guides," said Capt. Stephen Watton, a public affairs officer with the 1st Canadian Ranger Patrol Group, in an email. 

"This opportunity will provide Rangers with knowledge to map a safe route across Great Slave Lake."

On Friday, Firth met up with Ranger Kevin Lafferty, who delivered warm clothing: fresh long underwear and socks in preparation for the trip.

Firth will also be assisted by traditional gear. He's borrowing a caribou parka and boots from Cathy Allooloo of Narwal Northern Adventures in Yellowknife for the trip.

In Hay River, despite having just arrived following a sleepless night on a Buffalo Air cargo truck, Firth made a point of seeking out K'atl'odeeche First Nation chief Roy Fabian to make an offering of tobacco and secure the chief's blessing for the crossing. 

Firth is expected to depart from Hay River at 8 a.m. Saturday, and arrive in Yellowknife on March 9. There he will attend several events including showcasing a documentary about his cross-Canada run and raising money for the Yellowknife women's shelter. 

He will also deliver the caribou antler pieces for the $100,000 Behchoko handgames tournament held March 9-12.