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NEWS ENGLISH

The Shelley Spirit of the Yukon Award

Copyright: MarkKellyPhotography.ca

On July 13th, 2021 we lost Shelley Gellatly, one of the pillars the MYAU was built on.

Shelley was part of our family pretty much from day 1. She competed many times and from the beginning she did everything she could to help this race. Shelley gave advice to anyone who asked for it. She helped with and later organised MYAU training courses. If she was not racing herself she would be there to support. No matter what time of day or how far the drive, Shelley would do it and she also liked to be there to see others finish. She got to know some of her best friends through the MYAU and she often said that it had a great influence on her life. I believe I can speak on behalf of all who got to know her in saying that she has had a great influence on us, too. I said it in a post I wrote a short time after her death, you do not often meet people who give and do not expect anything in return. Shelley was one of those people. She liked to be there for others, share her experience and to be part of it all. Shelley also had a competitive side. She trained hard and as an athlete always wanted to finish. But she also took care of others and she learned that a DNF is part of the experience and it does not make much sense to dwell on it. You learn, improve and try again next time.

Overall, Shelley Gellatly has shown us all what the „Spirit of the Yukon“ is and why we love this place and this race. Therefore, I want to create the Shelley Spirit of the Yukon Award – to remember her and her values and to honour athletes or crew members who demonstrate the same kind of attitude, because to me this is what matters the most. Yes, it’s normal that athletes want to win or place well, there is nothing wrong with that, but I think what inspires us is when athletes or crew show this special kind of dedication and give their all for someone else to be safe or for the event to be a success, regardless of what it means for them personally.

There is no prize for the Shelley Gellatly Spirit of the Yukon award, just like there is no prize for the winner of this race. Rather, it is a celebration of the North and the fact that we need each other out there. This page will introduce you to the people who get this recognition every year from now on. I hope it will inspire you and remind you of what matters in life: Not a finish or a win, but who you meet along the way, lasting and honest friendships and being able to count on others when you need it most.

In 2022 many athletes deserve the Award – actually anyone who showed up despite the Covid-19 pandemic and necessary race changes deserves it. However, the athlete I want to give this recognition to is Pat Cooke-Rogers from England. Pat has competed in the MYAU many times. Some years she finished and some years, like in 2022 she did not. Pat has a very strong belief in God. Personally I am not religious at all but I have enormous respect for Pat’s beliefs and the fact that on her days and nights on the trail she feels close to God. Some years ago Pat, as the MYAU race chaplain, also started the Yukonprayer which takes place before the race – this time it was online. Anyone can attend and the feedback received has shown just how valuable it is to have this special gathering. It is Pat’s nature to be there for others if they want it – before, during and also after the race. She knows what the much feared „DNF“ feels like and helps athletes to get over the initial disappointment. That does not mean she is not disappointed herself if she can’t finish. But, like Shelley, she does not dwell on it and instead looks at it in a positive way and is then immediately ready to help – often as a volunteer at checkpoints right until the MYAU is over.
Given all this, I am convinced that Pat deserves the Shelley Spirit of the Yukon Award. Just like Shelley she has become an integral part of our family and we hope to see her back as an athlete and race chaplain for many years to come. Thank you Pat for everything you have done for the MYAU – both the athletes and the crew.

Pat greeted by Gary Vantell at Muktuk Adventures in 2022 – photographed by Mark Kelly

I have created a page featuring all atheletes and crew members who receive the Shelley Spirit of the Yukon Award. It will ge a great way to get some inspiration for many years to come!

Sternwheeler Hotel & Conference Centre new MYAU partner hotel

The newly renovatec Sternwheeler Hotel & Conference Centre

For almost 20 years we have worked with the Coast High Country Inn. Since the High Country Inn was recently sold we stayed at the Best Western Gold Rush Inn last winter. It’s been a great pleasure staying in both hotels and working with their friendly staff. Thank you Northern Vision Development LP (owner of these hotels) for many years of support and co-operation.

From next winter onwards we will start a new chapter! I am super excited that from now on we will have the Sternwheeler Hotel & Conference Centre as our new partner when it comes to accommodation. It is the Yukon’s largest hotel, boasting 181 rooms and suites, a fully modernized event space and a vibrant onsite restaurant and lounge. Guests arriving at the hotel are welcomed into a modern lobby teeming with Old Yukon character and charm. They feature a well-equipped fitness centre with the latest weight and cardio training equipment. Complimentary perks include airport shuttle service for commercial flight travellers and parking on a limited basis.

Most important of all, General Manager, Nicole Horlbeck, has been part of the MYAU family pretty much from its beginning. For many years Nicole was our host at the High Country Inn. Now she is at the helm of the Sternwheeler and it will be lovely to see her again and to know that her front desk team will do anything they can to make this a perfect stay for our crew and all athletes.

For information on the athlete rates and booking procedure please check out our info page on Travel.

Montane Lapland Arctic Ultra documentary out now

Copyright: Linnéa Isaksson @Follow The Sun Photography

I have been getting a lot of messages about the MYAU dates for 2023. So far, I do not have the answer. It depends a lot on when the Yukon Quest will start and if they will go back to the original 1,000 mile format. Hopefully, they decide next week.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy our documentary from the very first Montane Lapland Arctic Ultra which was released yesterday 🙂

Happy Easter everyone!

New Montane kit

Copyright: MarkKellyPhotography.ca

Temperatures are getting colder and snow has arrived in the Yukon. Time to look at our kit and see what may be missing or what’s new and exciting. All of Montane’s new winter 2021/2022 clothing is now in stores. As always their range is amazing and they feature many items that work perfect for the Montane Arctic Ultra and any other cold weather adventures. Here are just some of the highlights:

The Montane Axis Alpha Jacket is the ultimate piece of protective clothing for fast-paced activity in cold and changeable conditions. Based on cold chamber lab research and extensively athlete-tested, this jacket has been engineered with body-mapped fabric and insulation technologies from GORE-TEX INFINIUM™, PERTEX AIR and POLARTEC® ALPHA® DIRECT to balance protection from the elements with efficient heat and moisture management, keeping you comfortable when working hard in the elements.

While the MYAU is not necessarily fast-paced, it does require a lot of physical effort and changing terrain and temperatures cause the body to react. You may get cold or too hot. So, any piece of clothing that featues a hybrid construction to deal with what happens when you are working hard, is a great thing. Another issue is the strain of wearing a harness and/or backpack on clothing with insulation. Especially if it’s down. The Axis Alpha Jacket takes this into consideration and offers great solutions.

Construction

  • 30 Denier GORE-TEX INFINIUM™ nylon in the core body and over arms
  • 30 Denier PERTEX QUANTUM AIR nylon across the back and under the arms
  • 120g/m2 POLARTEC® ALPHA® hi-loft insulation across the back, under the arms and in the hood
  • 90g (M) of 90/10 water resistant fluorocarbon-free HyperDRY™ goose down at 800+ fill

Features

  • Micro chamber construction in the core body
  • Fully adjustable roll-away insulated climbing helmet compatible hood with stiffened peak
  • Full-length two-way YKK VISLON front zip with internal storm flap
  • Two zipped hand pockets
  • Concealed zipped chest pocket
  • Pre-elasticated cuffs
  • Adjustable hem with cinchable drawcord

Designed for all types of expedition, the Featherlite Down Pants are a luxuriously warm PERTEX® QUANTUM ECO pant filled with high quality 800+ fill power goose down. Light and packable, they are the ideal way to boost lower body warmth whether as part of a layering system, in a bivi situation or for hut to hut use.

For the MYAU down pants are not a must. There are other options, like having good layers and for the really cold temperatures something with a synthetic fill, like the Montane Prism Pants. But obviously when temperatures reach the absolute extrem and you are not on the move, a down pant will give you extra warmth and comfort. If that’s what you are looking for, look no further!

Construction

  • PERTEX® QUANTUM ECO 100% recycled outer with DWR
  • 140g (M) of 90/10 water resistant fluorocarbon-free HyperDRY™ goose down at 800+ fill
  • PEAQ Down lining
  • Responsible Down Standard (RDS) and Track my Down™

Features

  • Midi baffle construction throughout
  • Pre-elasticated waist with adjustable waistcord
  • Zipped fly opening
  • 3/4 length two-way side zips
  • Two insulated hand front hand warmer pockets
  • Low profile hem cuffs
  • Montane stuff sac

The Icarus Vest is a classic mid-weight insulated micro baffle vest filled with PrimaLoft® Thermoplume®; a 100% recycled synthetic insulation which mimics the heat-trapping properties of natural down whilst being extremely fast drying. Combined with the PERTEX® Quantum Eco outer fabric which has a DWR for shedding light rain, this is the ideal core body insulation choice for mountain walking in mixed conditions.

Vest are perfect for cold weather activities. They give you warmth where it is most needed, at your core. Thus you can work hard, reduce your sweat and still get enough warmth to the rest of your body.

Construction

  • PERTEX® QUANTUM ECO 50% recycled outer with DWR
  • 105g (M) of PrimaLoft® Black Thermoplume® 100% recycled insulation
  • 100% recycled PEAQ synthetic ECO lining
  • Micro baffle construction

Features

  • Close fit collar
  • Full length YKK front zip with internal storm flap
  • Lightly elasticated armholes
  • Two zipped hand pockets
  • Adjustable hem with cinchable drawcord

Montane has got many more great products for this upcoming winter! To check it all out, please have a look at their website montane.com.

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.