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MYAU 2022 start date confirmed

Copyright: MarkKellyPhotography.ca

The Yukon Quest now confirmed their start date and location for 2022. Based on this announcement we are able to set the dates for the Montane Yukon Arctic Ultra 2022, too. We will start on February 3rd at Shipyard’s Park in Whitehorse. The Quest will take off in Fairbanks and this means – as always when this is the case – that our maximum distance is 300 miles to Pelly Crossing. So, we will offer a marathon, 100 and 300 mile race. The next 430 mile race with a finish in Dawson City will take place in 2023.

There is obviously still a chance that even next winter Covid-19 will somehow impact the MYAU. We will continuously monitor the situation and stay in touch with the regional authorities.

Applications should be possible from next week. Anybody interested, please get in touch and you will receive the paperwork as soon as it is ready.

New race in Överkalix, Swedish Lapland

Location and date

Today I am able to announce that we have a location for our new race in Sweden. It is in the heart of Lapland and start and finish will be in Överkalix.

This week I was able to travel to Swedish Lapland and meet with represenatives of the Överkalix municipality, local companies and organisations we need to put on a successful race. The feedback has been really good and we all have agreed that we will make this happen. Soon I will have more news about important aspects like distances and checkpoints.

I can also confirm that our new race will start on Feb. 7th with a pre-race timing that will be pretty similar to what we had planned for Canada.

In a separate update I will inform on the current situation regarding a race in the Yukon for Yukoners/BC/Nunavut/NWT and other Canadian nationals.

Dealing with Covid-19

Like the rest of the world, Sweden has been affected by Covid-19. Most of you will know that the Swedish government has, in certain aspects, taken a less strict approach when it comes to the prevention of spreading the virus. That does not mean that people can do anything and that there are no regulations at all. I also feel that we as foreigners coming to this beautiful country have a very strong responsibility to do anything we can in order not to bring Covid-19 to the region where we are being hosted.

Therefore, we have to make changes to a lot of procedures we normally have in place, before, during and after the race. However, I still believe that you will experience great hospitality and when you are out on the trail, looking up a the Northern Lights and breathing the fresh, cold air, you will gather the energy, motivation and strenght you need when you get back home – to stay positive until hopefully soon this pandemic will come to an end.

Another reason why we need to have certain measures in place is that without distancing and hygiene just one positive case of Covid-19 may mean the entire race needs to end while we are in the middle of it. If we are smart and cautious, we should be able to prevent this.

The local authorities have not yet received our Covid-19 operational plan. It will exceed what current Swedish regulations demand. Therefore, I do not expect that even more severe measures could be demanded. The following are the main measures that will affect athletes:

  • You are aked to try and be as careful as you can while travelling, i.e. please wear a face mask (covering nose and mouth at all times), keep your distance and stick to the rules of recommended hygiene.
  • Once in Sweden we ask for permanent distancing of 2 metres at all times – before, during and after the race.
  • We will have solutions in place for recommended hygiene measures, e.g. hand washing stations and desinfectants.
  • There will not be a pre-race dinner.
  • Our race briefing will be sent out in writing and we will see if we can set-up an online meeting for Q&A.
  • Race checkpoints will serve hot water but not all of them will have meals – which means you need to have sufficient expedition meals.
  • We have yet to decide about sleeping inside at the checkpoints. There is a chance that access to the inside in most places will be limited to emergencies. The good news is that temperatures in this area of Swedish Lapland should not go below – 35° Celsius.
  • When you come in contact with crew at checkpoints – even if you can keep your 2 meters of distance – you are asked to cover nose and mouth with a face mask. This also goes for the time before the race.
  • Even though the local regulations may not require it, we also ask you to wear a face mask when coming in contact with the local population, e.g. when entering or leaving a restaurant, on transfers or when inside for grocery shopping, etc.

We are also analysing how we can implement a Covid-19 test strategy that is possible for all, makes sense and helps us to further reduce the risk of spreading the virus.

I realise that some of these rules are painful. I for example always really enjoy our pre-race dinner and seeing the excitement of everyone the night before the start. However, I am sure that the time on the trail will make up for it.

If of course you are sick and tired of distancing, hygiene and other Covid-19 related rules, it means it likely is better if you join us in 2022.

Signing up for Sweden

My goal is to have the race website up and running by November 1st. At the same time I will work on the rules and the Application & Waiver. I hope to be able to accept entries one week later. All athletes who had signed up for the Yukon will get priority. Any remaining spots will go to people who had already expressed an interest. If there are not enough spots I will open a waiting list in case regulations allow for more than 50 entries.

Althletes who had signed up for the Yukon and will not be able to sign up for Sweden, will get an 80% refund on the deposit. Athletes who had signed up for the Yukon and now will come to Sweden will get 100% refund on their MYAU deposit and will receive a new invoice for the race in Sweden. I have to do that due to VAT regulations.

Any athletes who had not signed up for MYAU but want to come to Sweden will have the same procedures in place that we use for Canada, i.e.

  • I will have a skype interview with you in English to discuss important aspects of the race.
  • Anybody without previous outdoor experience in extremely cold temperatures, will have to do a 4-day winter survival course in Överkalix before the race. Details of this will be confirmed soon but you can expect similar cost and topics that our partners offer for their courses in the Yukon.

Rental Gear

All rental gear I have is in the Yukon. I still intend to provide rental gear in Överkalix. I simply will build up a stock of gear there, too. In order to have everything ready in time, I would like to ask all participants to confirm their rental gear needs asap.

The new website will inform about what rental gear will be available. The plan is to have:

  • Pulk sled with poles (or ropes if preferred)
  • Harness
  • Sleeping bag
  • Winter sleeping mat
  • Stove kit
  • Expedition down jacket (Montane Apex 8000 Down Jacket)
  • Snowshoes
  • Tent

A big THANK YOU

I want to send out a big thank you to:

Linnea Nilsson-Waara and Niclas Bentzer who were the ones suggesting Överkalix as a possible location and who went out of their way to establish contacts, to answer my hundreds of question and then hosted me in their great home just 100 metres south of the Arctic Circle.

Peter Mild who helped with his input and designed our new race logo (soon to be released).

Överkalix Municipality for immediately coming on board and supportung our effort by allocating resources to it.

Heart of Lapland and Swedish Lapland marketing initiatives who provided vital feedback and support in many aspects including media and PR.

The members of Överkalix Snöskoter Klubb without whom there would not be a trail and thus of course no race.

Sofie Holmgren from Överkalix Camping and Ann-Sofie Landin & team from Jockfall Camping for being supportive and coming up with a plan for accommodation and booking (info to follow soon).

Sven Olov Larsson from Projekt Nystarten, Ronny Carlsson and Viktoria Lundgren from Innova Print, Mats Ahlbäck from Ahlbäcks Taxi, Sofia Ahlbäck from Reko Biluthyrning and the many more people who have been so helpful and will hopefully all become part of our race.

Next steps

Next steps include having a new website with all the information, e.g. details on distances, checkpoints, travel information, information on services and much more.

At this point I would like to ask athletes not to make any flight and accommodation bookings just yet. For one, we do have a start date but I need a few more days to decide on time limts. And regarding accommodation the booking will be centralized and we are just putting together all necessary information.

Once the new website is online, the MYAU website will again be dedicated to our Yukon race only. All future news regarding Sweden will be on the new website. The same may be happening regarding facebook and instagram, i.e. it is likely I will do a separate facebook group and instagram account for Sweden.

Only 4 athletes left in the 300 mile race

The 300 mile distance is still dominated by Fabian Imfeld (Switzerland) and Tiberiu Useriu (Romania). So far it seems nothing can get to them. Fabian currently is at McCabe Creek checkpoint and Tiberiu is about 10 miles south.

Yesterday afternoon Shelley Gellatly (Canada), our only athlete on xc-skis, asked to get a ride back to Whitehorse because of problems with cold feet.

This afternoon Victor Hugo do Carmo (Switzerland) who had been in third position had to scratch due to frostbite on his fingers. Like all other cold injuries this year it is not severe but enough to have to withdraw him from the race.  But I am getting ahead of myself … Last night, as we all were getting ready for a quiet night, we did get a 911 SPOT alert from Phil Cowell. When that happens we always must assume that we are dealing with a life threatening situation. With the help of Jo Stirling from Race HQ and the Ken Lake crew we have been able to resolve the situation very quickly. A big thank you also to the RCMP who were ready to go in no time. Luckily we had Bernard at Ken Lake who was able to check on the situation and the RCMP did not have get involved. It turned out that Phil had frostbite on his fingers. His friends, Lee Francis and Gareth Jones (both from England) were with him at time and they tried to keep him warm and safe. Bernard transported Phil to Ken Lake where Trish and Sarah took good care of him.

Lee and Gareth initially continued and Russ Reinbolt (USA) eventually overtook them. All of them knew they may have a hard time making our 4 days 12 hours cut-off for Carmacks. Lee and Gareth were given a 2 hour time credit for helping Phil. By the time they found out about it, they had already made up their mind and also stated that likely it would not have been enough. I have not had a chance to talk to Russ, yet. However, feedback from the crew indicates that he had a hard time with his feet. That is not unusual in an ultra race but considering the distance still to go he probably had come to the conclusion that he could get himself in serious trouble if he ignored it. So, it was definitely the right decision.

In the meantime Paul Deasy and Patrick O Toole from Ireland were racing towards Carmacks and they arrived well before the cut-off. When the medical team checked Patrick they found what they believe is frostbite on one of his fingertips but in a very early stage it is not always obvious and easy to be certain. So, it was decided to have another look at it when Patrick gets up again.

All this means that at the moment we have only 4 out of 21 athlete left in the 300 mile race. That in itself is not unusual for the MYAU we have had several years with numbers this low or even lower. However, we always suffer with the athletes and constantly keep our fingers crossed that we see no more DNFs. The nice thing is that amongst those who could not reach their goal many have kept a very positive attitude. Several athletes already approached me and asked when they could sign up for 2021. They enjoyed the adventure, learned many valuable lessons and want to try again next year.

For those still in the race it’s difficult to predict what the next couple of days have in store for them. It should be getting warmer but that is not necessarily an advantage. Fresh snow and warmer temperatures could result in soft trails again. We will see and just take it „one step at a time.“

 

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!

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

Checking SPOTs

This is an important update for all athletes using a SPOT:

Almost all SPOTs are now handed out. There are quite a few units that have not shown a signal on the system. This concerns the following start numbers:

423, 421, 426, 430, 416, 302, 409, 103, 417, 439, 431, 303, 420, 432, 412, 410, 438, 425, 422

The athletes with the above start numbers should do the following: Please go outside with your SPOTs and put it in tracking mode. Then, after about 5 minutes, send an „ok message“. When doing this the first time it may take up to 20 minutes. I will update later today which SPOTs still are not sending.

Upload data for Trackleaders.com

For the MYAU 2019 athletes Trackleaders.com is providing a link again to upload some info. So, all participants using a rental or private SPOT please follow this link:

https://www.jotform.com/trackleaders/yukonultra19

Not only can you upload your photo. You can also link to a blog and list your sponsors.

Since this is a standard text/tool it may be a bit confusing in some parts. So, I just want to confirm that all of our rental SPOTs are handed out with Energizer Lithium Batteries and that all our athletes need to have a SPOT as the primary tracking device. An inReach is possible as a back-up only but will not be linked to Trackleaders.com.

 

Update on Training Courses

I updated the information on training courses you can take in the Yukon to prepare yourself for the MYAU.

Once again next year there is the course that is organized by Jo and Stewart Stirling. This course will take place for the third time and it is based at Scuttlebutt Lodge, just a few miles away from our 100 mile finish line at Braeburn Lodge. The timing of this 4-day course allows athletes to participate in it and then do the race right afterwards.

The second course is organized by Shelley Gellatly and she has got the support of friends like Jessie Thomson-Gladish and Gillian Smith. This course is now also 4 days long, has got the same timeline and also takes place just before the race. It will be based at the Takhini Hot Springs Hostel.

The reason why there now are two multi-day courses is simple. For a course to be really good, the number of participants needs to be limited. Due to high demand it made sense to have two possible and more extensive courses. That way there should be enough training capacity and we won’t have to turn anybody away who wants to sign up but does not have sufficient experience, yet.

Both courses are also open to athletes who want to participate in other cold weather races. Of course it is possible to come to the Yukon and do a course one year and participate in the MYAU in another year. In case you prefer to do it in two trips.

For more information on the courses please go to the Training Courses info section.

Montane Yukon Arctic Ultra 2018 final report

Well, where should I start with my final report after a race like this? It is the same procedure as every year I guess, by me saying: “Every MYAU is different and once again we faced new challenges and situations we have not been faced with before”. We had cold temperatures before but this constant cold of – 35 to – 45 degrees Celsius, that was new. No time to relax a little bit. Athletes constantly had to really focus on all aspects involved when trying to stay warm. On day 1 things looked very good. All except one marathon runner finished. And that is quite something! A marathon in these temperatures, with only hot water or tea at the half way mark and self sufficiency on food. That is a big time achievement. So, congratulations to all participants! Like last year 1 CAD per km run will be to the charity Little Footprints. Big Steps.
The ultra athletes all looked good at the marathon finish which premiered at Muktuk Adventures. Pure luxury for the athletes who were actually allowed to go inside a warm building and eat and drink there. In past years we were at Rivendell Farm, a great place, too. However, going inside was not possible. Once again thank you to the entire Muktuk Adventure team for hosting us and making it such a great experience.
It was the first night when the problems began for some. Especially the cold areas just off the Takhini River hurt our participants. Unfortunately, that night also brought us the first cases of frostbite. And it is so difficult to imagine how quickly this happens if you have not been in this kind of cold before. One wrong decision and it hits you before you know it. Temperatures got so cold that we were experiencing difficulties with machinery. Generators broke, ski-doos did not start and with cars/trucks it was not much easier. When we knew that going on the trail would be impossible for the guides, the race came to a halt. Once all repairs were taken care of, we continued. Unfortunately, on the way to Dog Grave Lake and Braeburn, many athletes had to scratch. Our 100 mile race saw 4 finisher and they all arrived looking good. Congratulations to Emanuele Gallo (Italy), Peter Mild (Sweden), Tomas Jelinek (Germany) and Michelle Smith (UK)!
For the 300 milers the suffering continued. Night after night is was extremely cold. I think a very important message was sent by Frode  Lein (Norway) and Asbjorn Bruun (Denmark) when they slowed right down after Braeburn to stay hydrated and dry. It meant that they had no more chance to make the Carmacks cut-off. But sometimes the MYAU turns more into an expedition during which survival really has to be the priority. Yes, a DNF is never easy to accept but if it helps to avoid cold injuries, it’s the better option. Of course that is easier said than done. Almost everything has to be in one’s favour in order to avoid frostbite in these temperatures. Perfect gear, knowing how to use it, changing layers, keeping dry, hydrating and eating, resting and so on. It all has to come together. Like some athletes said, it becomes a process of “continuous problem solving”.
Pretty soon we had only 3 athletes left in the 300 mile race. Jethro de Decker from South Africa, Ilona Gyapay from Canada and Roberto Zanda from Italy. All of them were going strong and looked good when leaving Carmacks. Unfortunately, Roberto got into trouble about half way to McCabe. He was rescued to safety and I would like to thank the entire team, especially Glenn and Spencer Toovey who were out there, found him and did everything right. Also a big thank you to Jo and Diane who helped me with the co-ordination of the rescue. Furthermore, thank you to the RCMP, EMS, helicopter crew and the hospital staff in Whitehorse. I visited Roberto today and he is on his way to recovery. He actually said that he wants to be back!
Jethro had already left for Pelly Farm, when Ilona arrived in Pelly Crossing. Finally, frostbite had gotten a hold of her fingertips, too. Being a xc-skier in the Northwest Territories she was not surprised. She had been more afraid for her feet but these were fine. Nonetheless, her race was over. Her achievement is incredible, though. I have never seen a xc-skier move this fast on the Quest trail. Maybe Enrico Ghidoni but I would have to compare the times to be sure. Jethro in the meantime just kept on going. All smiles and somehow immune to the cold. It has to be said that Jethro had been here before. He participated in Stewart’s survival course and learned some valuable lessons the first time around. This time he got it all down to an art and finished in Pelly Farm. I am positive he could have easily gone back to Pelly Crossing but we did decide to stop the 300 miles at the farm. Congratulations Jethro for getting this far in these kind of conditions!
Thank you to all athletes for having come to the Montane Yukon Arctic Ultra 2018. I hope to see you all again – be it in the Yukon or another ultra adventure!
Thank you to this great crew – on the trail and at the checkpoints! Diane, Julie, Jo, Anja, Martine, Medina, Tania, Branka, Shelley, Richard, Peter, Gavin , Tom, James, Pamela, Stewart, Gary (Young), Gary (Vantell) and Gary (Rusnak), Josh, Joe, Glenn, Spencer, Tony, Robert and Ross. Thank you also to Gillian, Bernard and Hector who took care of the Ken Lake checkpoint.
Thank you to our sponsors Montane, Primus, Yukon Tourism and the many local supporters like Muktuk Adventures, Braeburn Lodge, Carmacks Rec Centre, Kruse family, Selkirk First Nations, Sue and Dale from Pelly Farm, Coast Mountain Sports, Fraserway, Driving Force, Coast High Country Inn,  Total North and Atlin Mountain Coffee Roasters.

Emanuele Gallo wins 100 mile race

Emanuele Gallo from Italy arrived in Braeburn February 3rd at 22:11 which makes him the overall winner of this year’s 100 mile race. The entire crew is really happy for him. Right from the beginning he has shown the characteristics that are so important in the Yukon. He is obviously a strong athlete but he was also well prepared and always in a good mood. So, it’s well deserved.
Other athletes have also shown enormous skills and mental strength. Peter Mild from Sweden arrived February 4th at 00:16 to rank second overall in the 100 miles. Tomas Jelinek from Germany reached Braeburn Lodge at 02:19 placing 3rd. Congratulations to all of you!
None of the 300 mile athletes have left Braeburn, yet. Jovica from Serbia was the first to arrive. When removing the tape over his nose the top layer of skin came off. One of the dangers, when using tape on facial skin. Parts of his nose that were not covered looked like they may be frostbitten. Nothing major but possibly bad enough to not let him continue. We told him to get a good sleep and when he gets up we will have a look at it again to decide. Next 300 miler to arrive was Nikolaj Pedersen from Denmark. He has got frostbite on the tip of some toes. Again, not serious but definitely bad enough for him to have to stop his adventure. He is now resting and will get a transfer back this morning.
Fortunately, we also have several 300 milers who were have no frostbite or other problems. They certainly are suffering by now but are all having a rest and can continue. Ilona Gyapay and Asbjorn Bruun who I should mention are doing the race on xc-ski, which is difficult to begin with and in these temperatures absolutely amazing. Normally xc-skiers are the first to get frostbite on toes. Also at the CP and fine are Frode Lein and Jethro de Decker.
That means still out on the trail are 300 milers Roberto Zanda and Michael Wardas. Their SPOTs are not working. That’s why our guides will have an early start to check on them. Michelle Smith is on the trail, too. However, her SPOT is sending and she signalled that she is taking a break.