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

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

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


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.

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.“