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January 2020

Brian Stuart from Whitehorse wins MYAU 2020 marathon

Almost in time, at 10:32 this morning, the Montane Yukon Arctic Ultra started at Shipyard’s Park in Whitehorse. Before everybody left, I had some good news. The amount of really soft trail was less than expected. The athletes still had to face soft trails but not to the extent we anticipated. Also, the trails that Gary Rusnak from our crew put in to avoid large sections of overflow, were still passable. At about – 10 degrees C temperatures were also rather mild. So, it’s no big surprise that all participants were eager to get going and had big smiles on their faces. The good mood continued on down the trail.

Our marathoners normally have to do an “out and back” at the end of their race of 5 km, i.e. 10 km total. However, after about 3 km of this stretch of trail new overflow had appeared over night. The decision was made to turn the runners around at that point. That means that it was not quite the marathon distance today but I would say almost all runners were rather happy with the change. Congratulations to all finishers!

The fastest runner today was local Brian Stuart. It took him 03:49 to reach Muktuk Adventures. With a time of 03:56 Josh Kramer from Guelph/Canada took 2nd place. The 3rd rank went to Andrew Miller from Pembroke/Canada. For the full results please see our results table.

Currently in the lead for the 100 miles is biker John Berryman from Whitehorse. Not much longer and he will reach our remote checkpoint Dog Grave Lake. Next up is Kevin Leahy from Ireland who is in the foot category.

Since Tiberiu’s SPOT tracker has not updated for a little while it is hard to say if he still is the leading 300 miler. Fabian Imfeld from Switzerland may have overtaken him.

Unfortunately, two athletes have had to end their races. Lucile Barbaudy from France was not feeling 100% confident. Her body created more heat than it should have. At first sight this may seem like a good thing but it can of course also be an indicator that something is wrong. She is already back in Whitehorse. Just like Andy Gregory who has had mechanical issues with his bike.

Everybody else has been in a good mood and looking forward to first night out in the Yukon wilderness.

Often that first night results in numerous “help” messages. With slightly milder temperatures maybe we are lucky and they will all continue. I keep my fingers crossed.

The crew has done a great job on a very busy day! Thank you all. And thank you Muktuk Adventures for allowing us to be here. This is such a unique place. I am typing these lines in the main building in the living room. All around me are retired sled dogs who I am sure are wondering why on earth there are all these people out there and they pull the pulks themselves.

Message from SPOT Control

We are trying to check all SPOT units are working properly and to enable us to do this before the start tomorrow morning, please could athletes go outside – either still tonight or early tomorrow morning, switch on their SPOT’s and press “track” mode and stay outside for 10-15 minutes. The following athletes do not need to do this as their SPOTS are already showing as tracking: 101 / 102 / 103 / 113 / 116 / 302 / 313 / 315 / 319 / 320. We will be looking out for you … Thanks!

Race Start at Shipyard’s Park

Not far from Whitehorse there is a large area of overflow. That is why today crew member Gary Rusnak spent many hours trying to find a route that allows us to avoid these dangerous spots. I then went and checked the area myself. The decision has been made that we will gather for our start at Shipyards’s Park tomorrow (Jan. 30th) and hopefully get going at 10:30 AM. Gary will check the trail one more time before we start. Should he encounter new overflow or other dangers we will transfer the athletes to Takhini and start there. Start time would be whenever all people and gear are there. hopefully no later than noon. Fingers crossed we can take off from Whitehorse.

The bad news is that the trails we had to put in to avoid the overflow are very soft. Impossible to ride with a fat bike and really tough on runner’s feet. It will not be fun … But that’s nature and a challenge that will be the same for everyone.

Our pre-race dinner was great. We kicked it of with a very interesting presentation by Dr. Poole on Frostbite and Hypothermia. We dealt with some admin and of  course enjoyed some very good food (thank you Coast High Country Inn!).

Athletes are getting their drop bags ready and can drop these off until 10 PM. Crew is packing and getting ready, too.

Everybody is eager to get going 🙂

MYAU 2020 Briefing

This is just a short new post. I promised the athletes I would create a pdf-file of my briefing notes and make these available for download. It’s a lot of information and does of course not include everything else that was talked about. For those of you not competing it may be an interesting to read, too. It gives you an idea what topics we covered.

Briefing MYAU 2020

Almost there!

The last days here in the Yukon have been very busy. Many athletes have arrived early to participate in the training courses, offered by Shelley Gellatly and Stewart and Jo Stirling. The feedback from the athletes has been really good. As athletes Maciej Zyto said to me today: “It’s almost as great as a race in itself!”

Parallel to the courses more and more crew have arrived and we have been busy preparing checkpoint material, finalising logistics, doing volunteer briefings, checking the trails, preparing markers, buying supplies and a lot more. Thank you all for the effort you have already put into making this another successful Montane Yukon Arctic Ultra.

All athletes who had not participated in a course are here now, too. Of course they are now anxious to get going. I am sure many sleds are being pack and re-packed as I write these lines. One more day and we all finally head north.

After a really long cold spell temperatures have warmed up considerably. In and around Whitehorse we have had – 15 to – 20 degrees C and tomorrow it may even be + 1 degree C. The warmer weather was accompanied by a lot of fresh snow and more possibly on the way before it will get colder again.

The marathoners may be lucky and actually run one of the warmest races we have ever had with temperatures between – 5 and – 15 degrees C. However, the warm weather comes with a price. Trails will be soft and there will be more overflow. Right now the first half of the marathon distance is soft and there is a good chance everybody will get their feet wet. So, all athletes please be prepared! At the trail briefing tomorrow we will have a final report and our crew will also go on the trail again immediately before the start for a last update. Possibly a lot of the overflow will be frozen again. The trail for the second half of the marathon looks very good.

The 100 milers and certainly the 300 milers may get it all – a tropical start going down to lows of – 40 a few days later.

One good news is that for the first time after many years the Pelly River trail is good enough for us to use it.

A big thank you to the Quest and the Canadian Rangers for the many hours of trail breaking!

Our SPOTs have arrived with quite a delay, i.e. today instead of last week. That is why the units were not handed out today. We will distribute the SPOTs after the briefing tomorrow instead.