Another MYAU is history. It was a tough one. Temperatures of – 45 degrees Celsius, in some places on the trail possibly even down to – 50 degrees Celsius during the first couple of nights influenced the entire race. After all the warnings about frostbite and other cold related problems I was actually very happy to see all athletes arrive at Rivendell Farm in pretty good shape. That’s all except Ignatios who had a bad cold and Renzo who had stomach problems. Both scratched at Takhini Bridge.
The marathon of course was not easy. I believe a lot of water bladders froze at some point and running 42 k with little or no water is difficult. But you all made it!
There have been some discussions in our Facebook group if someone running with a dog should be ranked in a different category. Other races do that. As for the MYAU we will not differentiate. Our marathon is not sanctioned. As is the case with the ultra distances our marathon is more about being part of something very special. Records and categories are not a priority.
More ultra athletes scratched at Rivendell Farm. They did the right thing as continuing may have caused serious problems. But they had no frostbite. Most of the problems ocurred on the way to Dog Grave Lake and some after. It’s a long way to get there. It’s night and it’s still the beginning of the race when there has not been a lot of time to adapt to the cold. So, getting to Dog Grave Lake without any major issues was a big challenge and even at the checkpoint things were not easy. At that point quite a few more athletes had decided to call it a day. Some did so before they ran into more difficulties. Some already had frostbite. And as much as I know it can happen I always feel sorry for any participant who is faced with this problem. All the training, preparation and money spent and the race is over after the first night. I believe all athletes who did get frostbite will be fine. However, Michal’s case was and is pretty severe. I am sure most of you will have seen the newspaper articles or TV news on his participation. Our first Polish competitor has always kept his spirits high and one of his hands is out of danger. He will know about his other hand in about 4 weeks time. I wish him all the best for the continuing recovery!
Were it not for Michal’s case things were within the limits of what I would call „normal“ in these temperatures. I will make some changes to the rules, e.g. temperature rating of sleeping bags and other mandatory gear. However, one thing needs to be clear to all future athletes. And we have always said that. If temperatures do get that cold, this race is dangerous. We can check on everyone as much as we want. The crew can’t be there all the time. And 5 minutes and one mistake are enough to get frostbite.
I also want to congratulate all athletes who followed our instructions and dealt with any problems as they were happening or made the decision to scratch before the cold could harm them. And I want to thank the athletes who were so kind to help others!
Whilst it was sad to see so many athletes scratch, it was also amazing to see that a lot of athletes got through the cold quite well. Our 100 mile winner Kyle McCoy for example arrived in Braeburn and looked in very good shape. I would say he is a strong candiate for the 300 or 430 miles! Congratulations also to all other 100 mile finishers. You did great!
As the race progressed, temperatures were warming up considerably. At this point the worst was over but of course slightly softer snow, wind that made the trail disappear on the lakes, very tough trails on some river sections and simply the long distances still made the going tough. As a consequence some athletes who had gotten through the cold still needed to scratch, e.g. due to tendonitis, skin infections, flue, back or other problems. Therefore, the 300 mile distance only saw three finishers. First in was Neil Thubron (England) followed by Daniel Benhammou (US) and Ryan Shaw (England). Congratulations, guys!
On to the 430 miles. It was great to see how Derek Crowe from Whitehorse made sure his fellow competitor Enrico Ghidoni (Italy) got help solving the problem with his bike. Jonah from Icycle came all the way up from Whitehorse for a repair. Unfortunately, it did not last long and Enrico basically pushed his fat bike all the way from Dog Grave Lake to Carmacks. Once there he received a new wheel and then there was no more stopping him. As most of you will know Enrico had already finished the 430 miles as a runner and xc-skier. In these categories he placed 1st each time. And he did it again this year. But what makes Enrico such a special athlete to me is more about his attitude. No matter what difficulty he is facing he always is going strong and his favourite statement: „No problem“ just says it all. Derek came second and really enjoyed his experience. He also wrote a nice article for Yukon news and took some very nice pictures.
Up next were Hanno Heiss (Italy) and Peter Felten (Germany). Peter had overtaken Hanno before the finish line but decided to wait for the athlete from Pfalzen just bevor the finish banner and they crossed the finish line together. Hanno was our first athlete into Dawson on foot this year. It was great to see him get there as in Carmacks things were not looking so good for him. Dr. Mathias Steinach had helped him take care of his swolen calves and Hanno got better and better afterwards.
Pat Cooke-Rogers (England) came 5th with her fat bike. It was so great to see her finish! It also made her the first woman from Europe to ever reach Dawson.
Joel from Spain came 6th overall and 2nd in the foot category. He had bad feet for quite some time but did not let that get to him and just pushed on.
Mathieu Bonnier (France) ranked 7th overall and 1st in the xc-ski category.
To the sound of ABBA music we then celebrated the arrival of David Erixon and Niclas Bentzer, both from Sweden. They placed 8th overall and 2nd in the xc-ski category. They are also the only team ever to make it to Dawson. They looked amazingly fresh at the finish. We all were impressed with their perfect strategy and their steady performance. Like so many others they were a great example of just being postive all the time, too.
Bernhard Hasenbalg (Germany) came in as 10th overall and 3rd in the foot category. Followed by Jessie Thomson-Gladish (Canada) who placed 11th overall and was the first in the women’s foot category. With her was Julie Pritchard (England) who had skipped one stage and therefore did not get ranked. But I am sure had she not been sick for two days she would have made.
Last but certainly not least, Sean Brown (England). It was Sean’s 4th try at the 430 miles. We all knew that if he made it through the first two nights it would be his year. And he did get through the initial phase of the race. Not without pain and suffering. But Sean is tough and he had learnt from his mistakes. To me it was very special to see him reach his goal. Something I certainly will never forget.
I want to thank everybody who made the MYAU 2015 possible:
Our sponsors and local partners, the entire crew on the snowmobiles and at the checkpoints. You were all amazing and once again made this race a very special experience for all the athletes and myself.
Thank you also to Yann Besrest-Butler our race photographer and the journalists and media crews. Any athletes interested in purchasing photos from Yann, please email him at email@example.com.
To all those of you who are on Facebook. We used our Facebook group quite a lot for updates, sharing of photos and links. If you are on Facebook, please join our group there and you have immediate access to plenty of interesting information about this year’s MYAU.
As for the next edition, all interested athletes please keep in mind that in 2016 we do not have the 430 mile distance. It will be happening again in 2017. Entries for next year should be possible in about 2 weeks time. If you want to take on the challenge, please send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I will provide you with the paperwork.