A FATHER who took on a gruelling Canadian ultramarathon in temperatures of minus 50 degrees could now lose part of his foot.

Just one of the 21 people who took part in the 300-mile Yukon Arctic event earlier this month managed to finish the event.

Nick Griffiths was forced to pull out on the second day due to severe frostbite on his left foot.

He then faced a two-hour journey on the back of a snowmobile back to a main road where he was picked up in a truck and taken to nearby Whitehorse hospital in north west Canada.

The race is billed as the coldest ultramarathon in the world and follows the Yukon Quest Trail, which cuts across the Canadian wilderness.

While temperatures are usually between minus 40 degrees and zero for the event this year's saw 'unprecedented' cold of around minus 54 recorded by some competitors and high levels of humidity only added to the problem.

Mr Griffiths, aged 46, of Sedgefield Drive in Smithills, was found to have third or fourth degree frostbite and doctors immediately told him he faces losing his toes or part of his foot.

He said: "We are talking unprecedented cold. The big problem though was the humidity. I think it was 80 per cent. It looked like it was raining but it was just ice crystals in the air. All your stuff was covered in ice.

"You have ice blocks forming on your eyes. All the moisture in your eyes froze. You are trying to pull the ice off and you are pulling all your eyelashes off instead."

The race started on Thursday, February 1 and Mr Griffiths made it safely to the first checkpoint at the marathon mark that afternoon.

As the first night approached, Mr Griffiths realised he needed to head back to the sled he was pulling to get some food and drink before getting in his sleeping bag.

After four hours he set off again, heading for the next checkpoint, which was at around 60 miles.

He realised that he was developing frostbite on his nose, ears and on his hands.

Mr Griffiths said: "I was having problems with my hands. I knew that was the end of my race. I was mostly just disappointed."

At around 3pm on February 2 he arrived at the second checkpoint and medics started to examine his frostbite.

He said: "They checked my feet and my left foot was white from my toes to halfway up. There was four or five of us who were being taken out of the race."

He was then rushed to hospital where his hands and feet were bathed in bowls of hot water to recover.

Mr Griffiths said: "At that stage I wasn't particularly worried and the doctor came in and had a look.

"He said this is third or fourth degree frost bite. This is as bad as it gets. You are going to lose some or all of your toes."

Whitehorse is one of the few hospitals in the world with a new treatment for frostbite, involving three different drugs.

Mr Griffiths was put in intensive care because of the affects of the drugs and spent the next five days in hospital. He now faces an anxious wait to see if the treatment worked.

Mr Griffiths, a married father-of-two, said: "My feet now look like a complete mess. I have just got to wait and see.

"The race has been going for years and they have never had conditions this bad. Everything was just freezing. Everything stopped working.

"On the Friday they suspended the race for 18 hours because the conditions were so bad and the snowmobiles stopped working.

"I think it could have been a lot worse. There could have been a fatality, it is that cold. You are out alone in the wilderness."

He arrived back in Bolton on Saturday and now faces appointments with his GP, at the hospital and at a burns unit to see how his foot has healed.

Mr Griffiths, who in 2014 rowed across the Atlantic, raised £9,500 for the Rob George Foundation. It provides support to young people with life-threatening illnesses.