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February 2016

Final race report

What a great race we have had this year! It was cold the first few nights. So everyone got to feel what it is like. But then it warmed up. The trail was soft in places but still okay. More Northern Lights than we have ever had before and more 300 mile finishers than ever before. A big thank you to all athletes who have been part of it and congratulations to all finishers.

I have always been lucky in having a great crew and this certainly also goes for 2016. What a team effort! Everyone worked really hard, on the trail, at the checkpoints and at race headquarter to make it a successful event. Thank you Diane, Adam, Scott, Gavin and Lydia from the medical team. Thank you Richard, Kim, Ricardo, Bob, Pam, Jason, Kristin, Damaris and Marc! Thank you Stewart for such a great job co-ordinating Dog Grave Lake CP. Thank you Bernard for hosting Ken Lake CP and thanks to all other checkpoint crews and providers – Rolland from Rivendell Farm, Steve, Lee & team from Braeburn Lodge, George and Cindy from Carmacks Rec Centre, the Kruse family at McCabe, Selkirk First Nation at Pelly Crossing and Sue, Dale and the Woofers at Pelly Farm. Last but not least thank you to the trail crew – Gary, Josh, Ross, Tony, Robert, Glenn and Spencer. I hope I did not forget anyone. You all did an amazing job!

Finally I want to thank the sponsors – Montane, Primus, Carinthia and the local businesses Driving Force, Coast High Country Inn, Total North and Fraserway RV. Your help is essential in make this race happen year after year.

Now of course it is time for my final race report. Even though the trail was rather soft leading up to Takhini Bridge we have had a fast marathon. Joel Hegner won the bike division and David Eikelboom finished first in the foot category. The first woman was Kristin Daniel who managed to improve her already excellent time from 2015. For all results please see the results page.

It was really great to see so many local marathon runners! If I may I would just like to ask the local marathoners to try and sign up by end of November in any future races. It would help making the planning easier.

As always the long stretch of trail from Rivendell Farm to Dog Grave Lake was a challenge for all the ultra athletes. Temperatures down to – 35 degrees C took their toll. Local athlete Virgina Sarrazin had to scratch due to frostbite. She is fine. No permanent damage. But it goes to show that it can happen to anyone. Warmer temperatures during the day cause more sweating and at night wet shoes and socks mean trouble. Not just with frostbite. We have also seen many cases of immersion foot. So, as a learning for future years: if the weather forecast is less extreme, changing socks and keeping up good footcare is just as important as it is when the weather is colder. Other reasons for DNFs at this point in time were chafing (again a problem that occurs more in „warmer“ years) and dehydration. If your water bottles freeze and you still have got a good distance to cover to the next checkpoint, it is very important to deal with it. It may mean time lost for melting snow. But that’s way better than having to end the race due to exhaustion and dehydration.

Michele Graglia finished 1st in the foot category. The Italian did so well, he almost managed to break Justin Wallace’s record from 2012. 2nd athlete to finish was David Hirschfeld from the US and 3rd rank went to Michael Faergegaard from Denmark. 1st in the women’s were local athletes Jennifer King and Gillian Smith. All 100 mile finishers did a great job! Great to see Jean Yves, Carlos Albert and Mal Smith finish unfinished business! And I should mention that James Binks who had originally signed up to do the marathon took Robert Hodges junior’s place in the 100 miles and finished, together with his good friend Robert Hodges senior. What makes this special is that James is 71 years old. Sorry, James, I know you probably would prefer if I would not mention your age but you are an inspiration! And I should add that James previously already finished the 300 miles. Again, teaming up with Robert Hodges. Also, he came very, very close to finish the 430 miles in 2013.

We have had a brave xc-skier, too. Thomas Keller from Switzerland needed 57 hours and 20 minutes and came in well before the 3 day cut-off. I had told Thomas that xc-skiing it is a tough one and I do not recommend it. But I guess to a Swiss guy this just makes it all the more fun to go for it.

The first 300 miler to reach the Pelly Crossing finish line was Bavarian biker Florian Reiterberger. Hardly ever have I seen anybody so relaxed and calm. Only when at the finish line he was told there is no beer he may have come close to a state of nervousness. Rank 2 in the bike category went to German Wolfgang Kulow and third place was taken by Tim Sommers from Australia.

In the 300 mile distance foot category we have seen a race for 1st place which eventually Jan Kriska from the USA was able to win. And he did it in style, setting a new record of 118 hours and 24 minutes. Gavan Hennigan from Ireland came 2nd. 3rd overall rank went to Bernadette Benson from Australia. Which also means that she placed first in the women’s. Julie Pritchard (England) and Jessie Thomson-Gladish (Canada) placed 2nd. And we have seen many more 300 mile finishers. All of them were great and really enjoyed their adventure. There has been so much positive attitude by everyone – Hugo Smith, Jorge Rufat-Latre, Paul Fosh, Joaquin Candel, Jörn Theissig, Mario Villemure, Oliver Lutte, Jerym Brunton, Rick Ferguson, Omar Mohamed Ali, Davide Ugolini – all of them were of course tired but also smiling whenever I met them. My special thank you goes to Canadian 300 mile finisher Daniel Héon who helped fellow racer Davide Lugato on the way to Pelly Crossing. Daniel did not think twice when he found Davide totally exhausted on the trail and made sure he was safe before he continued his journey.

Congratulation also to Team Raven Russia (Jerym and Rick) and the ’J’ Team (Julie and Jessie) who not only finished as individuel athletes but also in the team category. It is very rare that we see teams in the 300 mile race actually finishing together!

I hope everyone’s recovery is going well and wish all of you many great adventures wherever you go! It would be an enormous pleasure to see you come back in 2017 or any other year! To the crew, once more a big thank you! Extremely well done and I am looking forward to welcoming you back – be it a spart of the support team or as athletes out on the trail!

More 300 mile finishers

Apologies for the slow updates on the website. The internet in Pelly Crossing is a bit slow right now.

If you follow the MYAU on facebook you will have seen already who finished and how everyboday is doing. In case your are not on fb, here is a quick summary.

Unfortunately, some more 300 milers did have to scratch – for various reasons, e.g. stress fracture, immersion foot, chafing. Those athletes concerned are now all back in Whitehorse and I hope they get better soon and we will see them come back to have another go.

In the bike category Florian Reiterberger (Germany) came in ahead of Tim Sommers (Australia) and Wolfgang Kulow (Germany). Rank 1 in the fool category goes to Jan Kriska (USA). He also set a new 300 mile record. Rank 2 goes to Gavan Hennigan (Ireland) and rank 3 was achieved by Bernadette Benson (Australia). Which means of course in the women’s ranking she is number 1. Other finishers in the order of reaching Pelly Crossing are: Hugo Smith (Australia), Daniel Heon (Canada), Brian Bougourd (Guernsey), Joaquin Candel (Spain), Jorge Rufat-Latre (USA), Paul Fosh (England).

We are now waiting for Mario Villemure (Canada) who should reach the finish line very soon. Not too far behind him are Jerym Brunton and Rick Ferguson (both New Zealand). Just out of Pelly Farm are Davide Ugolini and Omar Mohamed Ali (both Italy). And last but not least, Jessie Gladish (Canada), Julie Pritchard (England) and Oliver Lutte (England) who are soon reaching Pelly Farm and should have no problem to get to the finish line before the cut-off at 10:30 AM tomorrow.

All remaining athletes make Carmacks cut-off

Julie, Oliver and Jessie got into the Carmacks CP way before cut-off. And so did Kabasawa. Unfortunately, Kabasawa has got immersion foot with the risk of an infection. That’s the initial diagnosis. He is resting now and we will have another look at it around midnight to decide if he can safely continue. The “J team” and Oliver want to get going again around midnight.

Florian is reaching the finish line as I write these lines. Which makes him the overall winner of the MYAU 2016 in the 300 miles. Not only am I very happy for Flori but also for MAXX Bikes as he is riding our special edition fatbike which was put together with our race in mind. Now we know it works.

Florian Reiterberger, overall winner of the MYAU 2016 300 mile race – copyright: Derek Crowe

The other two fatbikers, Tim and Wolfgang, are on their way to Pelly Farm. Jan Kriska, our leading athlete on foot is actually in front of them. I am sure all three will enjoy the stay at the farm.

Gavan is already more than half way to the farm and Bernadette is also heading that way. Initially I had thought that Gavan did not rest in Pelly but that was not what had happened. He did stop and rest. So, if Jan has got no injuries it will be difficult to take the first rank in the foot category away from him.

Gavan Hennigan – copyright Derek Crowe

Hugo Smith, Daniel Heon and Brian Bougourd are on their way to Pelly Crossing. Davide Lugato is brought there by snowmachine. It looks like he pushed too hard and got hypothermia. I should have more news in a couple of hours.

The remaining athletes are all on their way to McCabe. I have seen most of them to

A cold day

This morning it was – 30 degrees Celsius and it has not warmed up a lot. However, all athletes are handling the cold very well by now.

Unfortunately, James Innes had to scratch. He got a ride in with our guides. Enrique made it on his on and a long time before cut-off but will likely not continue.

Everybody else is doing well. Florian is now on his way to Pelly Farm and if he does not run into any unexpected difficulties he should win. First on foot is Jan but there is a race now. When Gavan came to Pelly Crossing and realised Jan had just left he did not stop for long. It will be interesting to follow those two guys now.

Bikers Tim and Wolfgang are on their way to Pelly Crossing. 66 year old Wolfgang is amazing. The things he has done in his sporting life are pretty crazy – amongst them a Deca Triathlon (38 km swim, 1,800 km bike, 422 km run). How is that for a start?

Also going strong are Bernadette Benson and Davide Lugato. Both on their way to Pelly Crossing.

Florian reaches Pelly Crossing

At 14:45 today fatbiker Florian reached Pelly Crossing. Since he really cold feet going through overflow he decided to get another good rest before he leaves for Pelly Farm.

Florian leaving Carmacks – copyright: Derek Crowe

Tim who is in second position got to McCabe a bit later. He will rest now, too. Everybody else still in the race is doing fine. Michael Haenel is struggling a bit with chafing but fingers crossed it won’t stop him. Jan Kriska is leader in the foot category and currently also at McCabe.

Gavan Hennigan is not too far behind Jan. And behind him is Wolfgang Kulow on bike. Third in the foot category is currently Bernadette Benson. All of them are going really strong. Next are Davide Lugato and Hugo Smith.

Daniel Heon just left Carmacks at 19:55. Brian Bougourd is resting here and plans to leave at 4 AM. Everybody else is on the way to Carmacks and should make it before the cut-off tomorrow at 10:30 PM.

Brian Bougourd out on the trail – copyright: Derek Crowe

Another beautiful day

We have seen most athletes come into Braeburn today. Right now there is only 100 miler and xc-skier Thomas Keller still out there. He will be here a long time before cut-off. To take on the challenge of skiing in this event is a tough one. It seems obvious that skiing would be a great method of travel in the coldest and toughest ultra marathon in the world – there’s plenty of snow and the trail is relatively flat – who wouldn’t want to ski it? Well I can tell you the trail is not best for skiing – there are many places where it is so undulating that to get up a good, consistent rhythm for fast skiing is nigh on impossible. This is why the skiers often are slow and so we should applaud Thomas Keller for his patience and endurance on what can be a very frustrating trail.

For the 300 miles things are in full swing. Braeburn Lodge has been really busy for Steve and his fabulous crew of chefs, bringing out enormous burgers and cinnamon buns for hungry athletes. Last night headquarters was busy too with both cabins full of tired, snoring volunteers and guides and the office buzzing with journalists and photographers uploading their photos and stories.

Don Banks was in his element cooking the best pizza in the Yukon for a hungry bunch of guides (and Race HQ). There have been a small number of people who have had to end their race early due to medical issues – it seems unfair when we prepare so well for something only for our stupid bodies to let us down! But one’s personal health and safety should always take priority over an event – after all the Yukon will still be here next year – as so many other returning athletes can testify – there’s always another race another year.

So currently the bikers are in the lead. Florian already left for McCabe where he plans on getting a good rest. Tim is resting at Carmacks which is an indoor check point with some elements of luxury – this is one of the few check points where the athletes can take a shower. What a blissful though after travelling in the freezing cold for over 36 hours. 🙂 And if anyone has time they can have a curling match on the indoor curling rink!

News from Dog Grave Lake checkpoint is that it is now closed as all the athletes have come through and the crew there have packed it down and are back in to Braeburn ready for some more crewing of further checkpoints. No more reports of frostbite which is great.

Diane is in Carmacks where she is waiting for Jan Kriska who is our leading runner in the 300 mile race.

David Hirschfeld and Michael Faergegaard finish 100 miles

David Hirschfeld (USA) reached the 100 mile finish at 16:50 yesterday placing 2nd. Michael Faergegaard (Denmark) followed in the evening to take rank 3. Both were tired but in good shape. David already went back to Whitehorse, together with his friend and race volunteer Bob Scott. Michael will get he shuttle back this morning.

Fabio Faria from Canada who is in the 300 mile race had to scratch at Dog Grave Lake. He will come out with the crew when they leave for Braeburn.

All other athletes in the back have reached Dog Grave Lake. In the front Tim Sommers (Australia) and Florian Reiterberger (Germany) are leading with their fatbikes. Both are resting for the night at Ken Lake and will reach Carmacks later today.

In the foot category Jan Kriska (USA) is currently a short distance ahead of Gavan Hennigan from Ireland.

Braeburn sees a busy night and volunteers Damaris and Richard are in charge of the CP while Diane is getting a rest. I am sure both really are looking forward to some sleep! It has been a long day and night!

Michele Graglia from Italy wins 100 mile race

Michele arrived at the Braeburn 100 mile finish line after 21h 56min. Only local athlete Justin Wallace managed to have a better time in 2012. Congratulations Michele! Really well done.

Later this morning we had to bring Virginia Sarrazin by ski-doo from Dog Grave Lake to Braeburn. She go frostbite on her toes. Luckily nothing that will last but enough to have to stop racing. Virgina is already back in her hometown Whitehorse.

Domenico Barbalace from Italy will also come out on ski-doo. Due to back problems and a bit of frostbite he pushed his SPOT help-button.

In the meantime, Florian Reiterberger from Germany is leading the field of 300 milers. He is on his way to Ken Lake where the crew is ready to welcome him. He said he would just take it easy … Bavarian understatement I guess …

Just heard from Dog Grave Lake that John Dennis also had to scratch or was told to better stop. He has got a chest infection and will travel south on ski-doo with Tony and Ross.

Everybody else seems to be doing okay right now.