On March 18, 1944, 27-year-old Aimo Koivunen and his Finnish ski unit were patrolling Lapland (northernmost region of Finland that is part of the Arctic Circle) when they came under attack by Soviet forces.
They soon found themselves surrounded by the numerically superior Soviets and had no choice but to retreat as quickly as possible through deep, untouched snow. Koivunen led the way, but soon found himself physically drained.
He then remembered that he was carrying a package of Pervitin, an earlier version of crystal meth that was used as a stimulant during World War 2.
It just so happened that Koivunen was carrying the entire supply of Pervitin for his unit. Koivunen struggled to pop a single pill into his mouth because he was wearing thick gloves and was still skiing like a madman to escape the Soviets. Since he could not risk slowing down, he decided to consume all 30 pills of pure methamphetamine. He noticed the effects right away. His exhaustion faded and he began to ski faster and faster.
The Soviets were unable to keep up and his own unit disappeared behind him. Suddenly, Koivunen’s vision began to blur and he lost all consciousness. When he awoke, he was completely alone and had covered 100 kilometers (62 miles). He was still high with no food or ammunition.
His only chance of survival was to keep skiing. He had no idea where his unit was, but he knew the Soviets were still on his trail. During the next few days, Koivunen came across Soviet forces several times, but managed to escape each time. He even skied over a landmine, which exploded and left him badly injured and delirious, but not enough to kill him. Drifting in and out of consciousness, Koivunen knew that he would quickly perish if he fell asleep for too long in sub-zero temperatures. He needed to keep skiing.
Koivunen managed to finally make it back to safety after having traveled a total of 400 kilometers (250 miles). He weighed only 94 pounds, and his heart rate was still pumping at 200 beats per minute. He lived until the age of 71 and passed away in 1989.