Survival Training

There are two winter survival courses available in the Yukon. Both courses take place immediately before the race. This offers you the opportunity to do both a course and the race on one trip. Other advantages of doing a survival course in the Yukon are:

  • you give yourself some time for acclimatisation
  • for the outdoor parts of the course you are on the same or same type of trails you will be on during the MYAU
  • the courses are organised by people with substantial race and Yukon specific winter survival skills

If time and budget allow for it you can of course also do a survival course one winter and then come back to do the MYAU the next winter.

Both courses aim at teaching you the skills to become confident and proficient at working in cold temperatures allowing you to maximise your potential in the MYAU or similar events and expeditions.

Overview “Survive to Race” – by Stewart Stirling

This course will be run with a maximum of ten people and is geared towards those entering or intending to enter the MYAU. However, it is also open to anybody doing other winter ultra events or expeditions as the skills of course are not just required for the MYAU.

It is a four day course and will include a full night out on part of the trail that will be used in the actual MYAU. Participants will be given maximum time outdoors during the course to become acclimatised and become familiar with the equipment they will use on the MYAU. Evening lectures and discussions can include motivation and what can go wrong. The course is flexible and will cater for the demands of the participants where possible. It is not designed to be physically over demanding. It is not a boot camp!

Cyclists are welcome as many of the learning outcomes taught will be required in the race. The course will be based on foot and ski travel. If you are a cyclist and require further information please contact Stewart directly.

It will be an opportunity to become familiar with the equipment to be carried and used on the MYAU whilst acclimatising. The main topics to be covered in the four days will be:

  • Equipment, clothing, footwear and outerwear – Layering for “dry cold”, finding out what works for you in the Yukon, how much to carry and find out what you don’t need
  • Shelter, bivvy, tent or tarp and a chance to become familiar with, and adapt, your own shelter for maximum warmth • Nutrition – Effects of cold on calorific intake, hydration, how to plan your food
  • Cold weather first aid and hygiene – Recognising cold injuries, prevention of immersion foot, frostbite and hypothermia, what to include in a first aid kit
  • Sled/pulk and harness set up – Become acquainted with your pulk and harness, correct fitting of harness and alternative set ups
  • Operating in extreme temperatures -General awareness of cold conditions, how they affect your body, tips on reducing cold effects, melting snow
  • Stoves and cooking – Introduction to the Primus stove, other stoves, lighting and maintenance, use of stove boards
  • Emergency shelter construction and fire lighting – Simple emergency shelters, simple fire starting techniques

Accommodation is at Braeburn Lake and which is a semi wilderness setting along the trail used in the MYAU. Accommodation will either be in traditional log cabins or heated wall tents shared by four. Camp life will not be luxurious with the maximum amount of time spent outside as possible.

For more details, information on cost and booking of the course please go to

Overview “MYAU Pre-Race Workshop” – by Shelley Gellatly

This course does not have a website. Therefore, you will find more detail on it below.

Time: Sunday, Jan. 27th – Thursday Jan. 31st, 2019)

This pre-race workshop is intended to provide aspiring MYAU racers the opportunity to learn, ask questions, and benefit from hard won knowledge from veteran MYAU athletes, volunteers and fellow racers.
By fine tuning your skills and race systems, prior to hitting the trail, racers will increase their chances of enjoying a safe and successful race. A lack of fitness will not take you out of the race. Poor problem solving and inadequate system planning will.

Race preparation starts well before you arrive in Whitehorse! And as such, so does this workshop.

Participants will have access to a private facebook group where they can pose questions, concerns, share ideas and receive feedback from the workshop facilitators. This is available upon registration.

The 4 day workshop will take place at the Takhini Hotsprings Hostel, about a 35 min. drive from downtown Whitehorse. Accommodation is shared (2 people per room).

Food, transfers and accommodation are provided.

A minimum of 6 people will be required for the workshop to run, and is limited to 10 racers total.

Deadline for registration: Dec. 21st, 2018.

Workshop Fee: $1000 CDN (includes GST)

For more information, email: and see the draft itinerary below.

Assistance with training program development is also available upon request and at an extra cost.

What’s included:

  • Private facebook group with discussion and support leading up to the race
  • Transport from Whitehorse to Takhini Hotsprings Hostel
  • Accommodation at Takhini Hotsprings Hostel (2 people per room)
  • Meals (participants will need to bring snacks for the trail and two trail meals)
  • Information sessions as outlined below
  • Gear check and recommendations
  • Day and night hikes with fully loaded sled including opportunities to light stove, make a wood fire, bivy, melt water and cook
  • Daily access to Takhini Hotsprings
  • Visit to Muktuk Kennels (1st checkpoint) and walk along the MYAU route
  • Advice from race veterans/volunteers on what has worked and not worked for themselves and others in the past

Draft Itinerary (may change closer to the dates)

Sunday, Jan. 27th, 2019

13:00 Pick up of participants, sleds and gear at the High Country Inn
14:00 Arrival at Takhini Hotsprings Hostel
15:00 Tea/Coffee/snacks and first session:

  • Introductions, course outline and goals/expectations of racers and race organizers
  • Greatest Fears/weaknesses
  • What takes people out of the race, most common mistakes
  • Participant Race plans/systems – discussion

17:00 Break/Rest
18:00 Supper

  • First aid session and how to avoid, recognize, deal with frostbite
  • Physiological requirements of the race

20:00 Free time/can go to Hot Springs

Monday, Jan. 28th, 2019

Morning breakfast will be self-serve any time after 7:30 a.m. snacks, coffee, tea, juice available 24/7

9:00 Morning session (inside)

  • Sled packing/organizing
  • Stoves
  • Repairing sled, stoves, poles, other gear
  • Selecting bivy sites
  • Clothing selection and layering
  • Pro-active strategies for race routine e.g. foot care, hydration, etc.

11:00 Outside to light stoves and set up bivy system
12:30 Lunch
14:00 Afternoon session (inside)

  • Psychological issues/strategies to help complete race (or take you out)
  • SPOT use
  • What to do in an emergency (yourself or another racer)

16:00 Fully loaded sled pull
18:00 Supper
19:00 Evening session (outside – wood fires, getting wet, changing/drying clothes, light stoves)

Tuesday, Jan. 29th, 2019

Morning breakfast will be self-serve any time after 7:30 a.m.
10:00 Morning session
Debrief on yesterday’s info, questions
Problem solving exercise
12:00 Lunch and break
Afternoon will be open for rest/hotsprings/sorting gear
15:00 Pick up for Muktuk Kennels, visit dogs, talk to Yukon Quest mushers
17:30 Supper
19:00 Leave to hike back to Takhini River Road and the Old Dawson trail on race route
(will stop and make fire, bivy, light stove, make water/snacks prior to returning to hostel)
02:00 Pick up from campsite and return to Hostel

Wednesday, Jan. 30th, 2019

Morning breakfast will be self-serve any time after 8:00 a.m.

Morning will be open for rest/sorting gear/informal discussion

11:30 Lunch
12:30 Afternoon session (inside)

  • Debrief on evening outing
  • Review rules
  • Drop bags

14:30 Break
15:30 Afternoon session (outside) – Stove lighting, bivy set up, water making, review spot use
17:30 Supper
18:30 Evening session (inside)

  • Review all maps and what to expect on the trail from past racers’ perspectives
  • Review checkpoints and what to expect
  • Review race strategy that was prepared/reviewed first evening, any changes? Discussion

Thursday, Jan. 31st , 2019

8:00 Breakfast and debrief, questions
10:00 Return to the High Country Inn