PYEONGCHANG - One of the enduring images of an Olympic Winter Games is of cross-country skiers sprawled on the snow after crossing the finish line in the men's and women's distance races.
The torture they put their bodies through in the men's 50km and women's 30km classic events at Alpensia Cross-Country Centre is extreme.
"For me when I cross the line, often times I’m not fully conscious,” Jessica DIGGINS (USA) said.
"For sure it is painful but we call it type-two fun, where it’s painful in the moment and then afterwards you look back and then go, 'Wow, I just pushed myself so hard. I can’t believe I was able to do that'.
"You have this immense feeling of pride that you were able to dig so deep. And also you get the endorphin rush.
“For me it’s the feeling of pushing so far and going so far beyond my limits that I am not even seeing straight any more and seeing things in pink and yellow.
"And I don’t know if that’s a great thing or not, but I think that is my particular strength, is the ability to push really, really deep and to know how to suffer and to know how to just kind of embrace the pain and move through it.
"But that’s why you see cross-country skiers, when we cross the finish line, we are done. There is nothing left in the tank, you have used 100% of your energy.”
For Callum WATSON (AUS), the pain is not quite as colourful.
"I wouldn’t say pink and yellow, but definitely you get this sort of pounding in your head and it sort of just goes a bit dark,” WATSON said.
"You kind of go from working flat out and then just having to lay down there.
"I don’t really know if it’s just the relief of it all, but you’re off to a different place for a little while.
"I guess that’s the thing with our sport, that it is so aerobically demanding, the pain thresholds that you’re dealing with are really high for basically the whole race.
"At the finish line you can’t be happy with yourself if you knew you may have had that little bit more to give. That’s why everyone is able to push themselves to that extent every race, because they don’t want to disappoint themselves."
The men's 50km classic is scheduled to start at 14:00 on Saturday and the women's 30km classic - the fight for the final medals of PyeongChang 2018 - starts at 15:15 on Sunday.