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As every year, once we close the checkpoint at Braeburn Lodge and are set up in Carmacks, McCabe and Pelly Crossing, things start to be a bit calmer. Time for an in between report.
We have seen more cases of frostbite this year than we expected. No serious cases but even minor frostbite is not a nice thing to have. And it does mean that the athlete concerned can’t continue. The guide crew also noticed that it “felt colder than in other years”. It seems to be a problem of relatively high humidity. We have had colder races and seen less problems. This year the air feels different and the cold is a lot more dangerous. However, not only frostbite has been the cause of frustration. Some athletes had stomach issues, hip and back pain, bad blisters, sore feet, muscular problems, etc. I guess a lot of these are “normal” issues that come with doing long distance races. Very frustrating of course. Many of those who did have to leave the trail early have already said they would come back and give it another try. The entire crew is looking forward to seeing you all again!
Right now the worst seems over. Although, as I write these lines, it is snowing. Which causes a new set of challenges if it stays that way. Fresh snow makes for a soft trail and it slows the participants right down. So, fingers crossed that it does not keep snowing.
As always it is great to see how some athletes just seem to take it all with a smile. No matter how cold or how long the distance between checkpoints, they make jokes and have a fun time even if the going gets tough. Amongst these are Jin Cao, Marcelo Vanzuita, Bernhard Hasenbalg, Jan Francke and the list goes on. James Binks really impressed us today. He was storming down the trail. And like Pat Cooke-Rogers, he gets better every day. Pat actually had to come back to the Carmacks checkpoint 3 times today because of problems with her bike. But she never lost her temper.
Enrico, the machine, Ghidoni is suffering a bit this year. No doubt he also misses his friend Hanno Heiss with whom he had planned to go all the way to Dawson. When leaving Carmacks last night Enrico actually forgot to pack his down jacket. That would normally not happen to him. It was then brought to him with the crew that checked the trail. And it may not make a difference but the rules dictate a 12 hour time penalty for leaving behind mandatory gear.
Every single one of the athletes still in the race looks really strong. That goes also for the ones who may be a bit further back. Since they all made the Carmacks cut-off, the chances for them to get to their finish lines are very, very good.
Peter Thornton and David Hartley won our 100 mile race coming in today at 14:10. Alistair Cole and Tristan Brown came in 3rd at 17:15. All are from England. Congratulations guys!
Now we are just waiting for Robert Jeffery and Scott Carey. Their SPOT is currently not sending but when we checked on them today they were fine.
A lot has happened since the last update. I believe I had not mentioned that Thomas Zimmermann, Brady Kyle and Richard Charles decided not to continue and Andy Gregory also did not want to risk further damage to his knee. Another runner who did not want to go any further is Jethro de Decker. They all are back in Whitehorse. Only a few hours ago we had to decide that Jovica Spajic can’t continue due to frostbite on his nose and the tip of two fingers. That is really unfortunate because Jovica is a very nice guy and a super strong athlete. He also did have a big lead in the 430 mile foot category. However, a small frostbite can quickly turn into a major problems in these conditions and it is not worth taking the risk. Local runner Gillian Smith had to give up as well. Temperatures also took their toll on her. Nothing serious just simply exhaustion.
On the positive side, we are seeing some amazing performances out there, too. And hopefully from now on there will be less participants scratching. Current leader in the 430 mile race is German Bernhard Hasenbalg. We had to hold him for 4 hours at Ken Lake because of the amount of evacs further south. Right now he is resting in Carmacks in order to avoid another cold night. He said that last night was the coldest he has ever been in the Yukon. And Bernhard has had many cold MYAU nights in previous races already. Some of the remaining athletes looked really strong and as the race progresses we will start to report a bit more on each of them individually.