Monthly Archives

January 2018

Schedule update

There are no major changes to the schedule. Just that the indoor part our training course will finish at 15:30 (instead of 15:00) and the outdoor part will then start half an hour later, i.e. at 17:30.

Also, today I will be in the High Country Inn Library from 10:00 to about 12:00 to hand out rental gear for anybody who already wants to pick it up.

Pre-Race schedule for 2018

January 29th, 2018
17:00 – 18:00 Hand-Out of the rental gear, Coast High Country Inn (Room: Library). If you can’t be there during that time please leave a message for me at the front desk of the hotel or contact me beforehand and we will arrange for a different time.

January 30th, 2018
11:00 – 15:00 Hand-in of any missing paper work, hand-out of maps, race bibs, filling-in of CARA waiver, Coast High Country Inn (Room: Library)

12:30 – 15:30 First part of the MYAU training course (indoor) – for signed up athletes only, Coast High Country Inn (Room: B1). There will be a late lunch (at 14:00) served for participants during the course.

17:30 – 21:00 Second part of the MYAU training course, trails near Whitehorse, meeting point in front of the Coast High Country Inn; again, only for athletes who signed up for the training course
18:00 – 19:00 Briefing for volunteers, Coast High Country Inn (Room: Library)

January 31st, 2018
08:00 – 09:00 De-brief of the training course, Coast High Country Inn (Room: B)

09:00 – 10:30 Official trail briefing and hand-out of SPOT units for all ultra distance athletes, Coast High Country Inn (Room: B)

11:30 – 14:00 Gear check for all participants who did not participate in the training or survival course, Coast High Country Inn (Room: Library)

16:00 – 17:00 Official trail briefing and hand-in of any missing paper work, hand-out of maps, race bibs, filling-in of CARA waiver for all marathon athletes

from 17:00 Pre-race dinner for all athletes and volunteers, Coast High Counry Inn (Room: A and B1)
Drop bags can be handed in at the Coast High Country Inn (Room: A and B1) from 17:00 until 22:00. Marathon drop bags should be brought to the start line.

February 1st, 2018
10:30 Start of the Montane Yukon Arctic Ultra, Shipyard’s Park, Whitehorse

Trail Update

Our crew of snowmobile guides went out yesterday, starting at Takhini Bridge to mark the trail for day 1. Normally this is done by the Canadian Rangers and we just may add a marker here or there. However, the Yukon Quest will likely not use the river. This normally would not be much of a problem but a very low level of snow made simple marking impossible. Instead the  ice needs to be drilled or hacked for each marker.

When the crew started yesterday it was – 38 degrees Celsius. Not the temperatures you want when working outside all day. So, thank you all for the effort!

The good news is that the little snow we have had over the last few days made it possible to actually see a trail. It’s not all just ice. Which meant we needed less markers. In addition, there is less overflow.

This is what Gary Rusnak posted in our facebook group some hours ago:

“What a difference a week makes-again. The Yukon river open water and narrow shore lines have been solved by the cold. Nice thick safe trail ice. As well the snow and wind has created a nice trail definition. Tahkini River has been solid for a while and as well with the fresh snow there is trail definition. Things are looking great on the River’s.”

Safety update

It is still too early to know exactly what the temperature will be on day 1 of the race. Right now, the forecast is for a high of – 28° C. That is without windchill! So, we may be in a temperature range that we refer to as “high alert status”. It also means that during the night of day 1 there will likely be areas of – 40° Celsius or even colder. With this update I want to make all athletes aware of the consequences of these kind of temperatures.

First of all, you need to know that in general, we do no trail checks by snow machine at night. When it is this cold the risk for guides to be out at night is even higher. This is not just because the guides also suffer from the cold. The main issue is machinery. At –40° Celsius things start to break and make a save transport almost impossible. So, there will be no snow machines coming out at night to respond help messages. Remember, a help message via SPOT to us means you have to end your race but you can stay put and wait for us to arrive the next morning. You also need to realise that even if you push the 911 button (which can only be pushed in a “life or death” situation) there will not be immediate rescue in these temperature and at night. Even in day time the extreme cold will lead to delays.

What does this mean for you?

  • No compromise on your gear – as already indicated in a previous update. Sleeping system, expedition down jacket and all other clothing need to enable you to deal with these temperatures.
  • Avoid sweating as much as possible, even if it slows you down because you need to make more stops to adjust layers.
  • Take sufficient back-up clothing if your clothing does get damp. And it likely will get damp no matter what as the humidity may be high, too.
  • Look out for each other! I recommend as you leave Muktuk Adventures and you head into the night to team up with other athletes who have gone the same kind of speed. If you come across other athletes in trouble, do stop and help. Do not worry about the time that may be lost because you need to support someone in trouble. Time lost can be credited.
  • Make sure you have everything you need to make a good wood fire (matches, fire steel and fire starter).
  • Don’t risk anything. If you come to Muktuk Adventures and you are realising that you have issues with handling the cold, be honest with yourself. If you continue not only will you risk your own health/life but also that of others who need to come and rescue you afterwards. Also, keep in mind that serious frostbite on fingers and toes can mean months of treatment. If you have a job where you need your hands you can imagine what problems you may be facing.
  • The crew will have a very close look at how everyone is doing until CP1/Muktuk. There may be gear checks and athletes may also be asked to stop and demonstrate they can handle the cold, e.g. by resting and demonstrating they can handle the problems they have at that point in time.
  • Don’t underestimate the danger of frostbite. Even those of you who have a great time and no real issues with the cold as such may get frostbite. Especially noses, cheeks and ears. And any type of frostbite means the race is over. Cover your skin, hydrate well, eat enough snacks between checkpoints. Make sure your water supplies don’t freeze and if they do know how to deal with it.
  • If you do need to rest over night – no matter if it is an emergency or not – pick you sleeping space wisely. Stay out of cold spots and near useable (i.e. dry) fire wood.
  • Have your shoes inside the sleeping bag if you are resting. If you leave your shoes outside they will be frozen solid.
  • Be careful when handling your stoves. Fuel spills on your skin mean immediate frostbite.
  • When you rested, make sure you don’t leave anything behind that is really important for your survival (e.g. smaller items like mitts that may have fallen out of your sled bag when you were packing/re-packing).
  • Stay calm. I have read an interesting book once about survival and it was pretty much all about the fact that those people who stay calm and used common sense usually get out of trouble. And those who get carried away by panic and fear often make their situation worse.

 

Wood-heat roasted coffee at the MYAU

Lack of sleep during the MYAU is a challenge for both the athletes and the crew. A good coffee goes a long way in making us feel better! So, I did not have to think twice when Atlin Mountain Coffee Roastery offered to sponsor us coffee for our checkpoints.

More than a century ago, a gold rush put Atlin on the map. Now this remote, beautiful town in northern British Columbia is experiencing a new resource boom: wood-heat roasted coffee!

Whether you prefer your brew dark, medium, or light, the Atlin Mountain Coffee Roastery offers coffee as wild and full of character as the place it is roasted. No chemicals, pesticides, or blending: just organic, fairly traded, single-origin beans brought to perfection in the Canadian wilderness.

They love coffee, and they love the outdoors. The environmental and social ethos of this roastery reflects these values. Their unique wood-fired roaster uses local pine as fuel, harvested sustainably and split by hand. By roasting with radiant heat, beans avoid contact with smoke. The result? Fresh, artisanal coffee made with ethical beans and renewable energy. Going off-grid has never tasted so good.

Checkpoints where we intend on having this great coffee is Muktuk Adventures, McCabe, Carmacks an Pelly Crossing.

Expedition bread from the Alpine Bakery in Whitehorse

You are looking for some snacks for the long stretches between checkpoints? Then you should try the expedition bread from the Alpine Bakery in Whitehorse. It is one of their first breads and great for the MYAU or other outdoor adventures. It will last 4 to 5 weeks without refrigeration. It’s sweet but not cake-like. Dense and easy to pack. All ingredients are organic.

There is a 200 g version for CAD 4.75 and a 1 kg version for CAD 19.75. The Alpine Bakery is on 411 Alexander Street.

Ice on the trails

Right now the Dawson Overland trail is very icy until about 10 km south of Dog Grave Lake. There is also a significant amount of overflow. Furthermore, we have the challenging situation that the Yukon River and Takhini River are not snow covered. As we now get closer to the start day we will take it one step at a time. Currently we are not planning on making any changes. If there would not be enough fresh snow, it may mean an extra effort of getting markers into the ice. It would also mean that the entire part of the marathon and a bit after the marathon everybody will be on river ice. So, spikes are a MUST.

We will evaluate the weather/trail situation every day now and if we make any changes I will update you all via our Facebook group and this news section here.

Dog Grave Lake is ready

Together with Robert Siefke, Pamela Brown and Eric, Stewart Stirling went into Dog Grave Lake to set it up. Thank you for that, guys! Stewart did a short video that shows you what some of the trail looks like:

This was taken yesterday between Dog Grave Lake and Braeburn Lake on the race trail. You may have heard the term overflow, well this is what it looks like.Just some of the conditions to expect on the MYAU. Snow, ice and WATER!

Posted by Stewart Stirling on Sonntag, 21. Januar 2018

Keep in mind, as we go north it gets better but be prepared also for the not so nice parts of the trail.

Primus sponsors fuel for MYAU athletes

Once again Primus will sponsor the fuel for all MYAU athletes. Please go to Coast Mountain Sports on Main Street Whitehorse in order to get your fuel. They have white gas and also the Primus winter gas. If you pick up white gas please remember to take along your gas bottles. Also, if you store your gas bottles – no matter if it’s in your sled or in a drop bag – make sure you close it well. A gas leak in your gear is the last thing you want!

The latest news

Not much longer now! If you had a look at the recent temperatures you probably thought this is pretty crazy. First – 40° C and now + 4° C. The good news is that the forecast says it will get colder again. In any case, winter temperature have been a lot less steady in recent years and there is nothing we can do about it. Whatever the temperatures will be, we will deal with it. At least all athletes now have seen that it really can get that cold and if it actually will get too warm it is not good news, either. Soft trails, lack of snow, less ice and overflow may be the consequences. As we get closer we will post an update regarding expected temperatures and we will talk about it again during our briefing.

The crew

Once again I have to say I am privileged to work with such a great team. There are some new faces in the volunteer crew who I am sure will enjoy the experience and many of the crew will be the same we have had for many years now.

Diane Patrick co-ordinates the medical team and volunteers. Jo Stirling will be our Race Headquarter. Gary Rusnak will co-ordinate the guides on ski-doo. Amongst them Glenn and Spencer Toovey, Robert Siefke, Ross Knox, Josh Smith, Tony Gaw and Gary Vantell. Joe Bishop will be guiding and taking great pictures again. Stewart Stirling, Pam Brown, Anja Svet and Gary Young will organize the Dog Grave Lake checkpoint. Bernard Stehelin (owner of Wilderness Fishing Yukon), Hector Leos Mendoza and Gillian Smith are at Ken Lake. Volunteers Julie Pritchard, Tania Charles, Branka Nerlovic, Martine Wolff and Medina Pedersen complement the team. Last but not least, we have the 100 mile athletes Peter Mild, Richard Charles and Gavin Clark who will join in after their race is over.

Checkpoints

As you know from a previous update, the big news this year is our change from Rivendell Farm to Muktuk Adventures for our marathon finish. Any locals and tourists who would like to go see the finish are more than welcome to visit. Should you come with a dog, please do leave your dog in the car. You can then check with someone from Muktuk to see if it is okay to bring your pet to the start line. For the athletes the new location means they can actually eat inside. Which due to lack of space previously at Rivendell was not possible. But that’s also it. There is no place to rest inside or to hang up and dry things inside.

We have had some discussions about drying clothing and kit at remote checkpoints over the last couple of weeks. It’s a challenging topic. Obviously, we don’t want an athlete to experience a DNF due to wet gloves or similar. At the same time it is impossible to guarantee proper drying of clothes at a remote checkpoint. There is simply not enough space. Other issues are that things may get left behind, get mixed up or burned if too many people try to dry things in a wood stove heated wall tent. So, the number one thing all athletes need to keep in mind and work towards is to avoid sweating. I do realize this requires frequent stops to change layers. That’s a pain. However, dry clothes are essential for avoiding frostbite and possibly even essential for survival. Also, having to stop to take off a layer is time consuming but drying a layer in a wall tent takes time, too. In order to support participants with this challenge it is our plan at Dog Grave Lake to provide a wall tent that can be used for drying. However, this may involve time penalties. That way, athletes who end up with wet clothes can get these dry again and have less risk for getting frost bite or not finishing for being too cold. At the same time we have an incentive to react to changing temperatures. I would also like to advise that all athletes should have back-up gloves, hats, socks, etc. at all times on the trail. Regardless of upcoming checkpoints – remote or not remote.

All other checkpoints are confirmed and there are no changes.

Updates during the race

For friends and family at home there are several ways to follow an athlete. There will be updates in this news section, there is a link to the SPOT map and our results table that shows in and out times at checkpoints. In addition we will have news in our facebook group and also on Instagram.

Especially the SPOT map is great as several times per hour it will update the position of each ultra athlete. However, I do need to “warn” you that technical failure of a SPOT is possible. That is why we have our checkpoints and crew out there to make sure everyone is fine.