Training Course

As always, the 2023 training course takes place immediately before the MYAU. It is organised by Jessie Howland and friends.

A local course offers you the opportunity to do the survival training and race in one trip. Other advantages of participating in a 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 course one winter and then come back to do the MYAU the next winter.

The course aims 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 “MYAU Pre-Race Workshop” – by Jessie Gladish

This course is facilitated by Jessie Gladish, Marianne Heading and Gillian Smith, all of whom have finished the race several times. Also part of the course with his expertise is Fabian Schmitz, owner of Bushcraft Yukon. Past workshop participants will be participating as well, on the course’s private facebook group.

For 2023 the course is slightly updated. The indoor part of the course that will take place while everyone is still at him is shortened to 2 sessions. While the part of the course that takes in the Yukon is back to 4 days. Here are the full details provided by Jessie and her team:

What you can expect from this pre-race workshop:

  1. Learn from the hard won knowledge of MYAU race veterans and we have spent thousands of hours in the Yukon wilderness and on the MYAU trail.
  2. Receive detailed trail notes and briefings that have been prepared based on our personal experience on the MYAU trail.
  3. Receive help with your race strategy, whether you are trying to “go fast” or “just finish”. The team have different race strengths and experience and will openly share what we have learnt.
  4. Access to a private facebook group as soon as you sign up, to discuss various race topics and questions as they arise. A few past workshop participants will be part of the group as well.
  5. Visit Muktuk Adventures for lunch and see the sled dogs! Then travel the race trail from Muktuk Kennels to the Overland Trail in the daylight, so you can better plan your strategy for race day.
  6. Practice all the essential skills you will need for the race i.e. lighting stoves, making fire, setting up your bivy, resting in your bivy. This will be done during the day and night.
  7. Gear check and advice prior to the race, including a one on one hour session with one of the facilitators prior to arriving in Whitehorse.

Our goal is for you to have an enjoyable experience regardless of what happens on race day! We are all passionate about the trail, the race and the entire MYAU family.

1. Itinerary 2023 online module (cost CAD tbc.)

Meeting #1 (2.5 hours):

  • Intro: Jessie, Gillian, Fabian, Phil, followed by all participants
  • Topics for today: logistics/rules/trail info/training/responsibility/homework
  • Meeting #2 will cover: bivvy system/stove/clothing & shoes/gear/homework
  • In person we will cover: review topics from online discussions/medical/emergency & spot/overflow/mental strength/food/water/packing tips/hands-on practice & outings
  • Powerpoint
    • Race rules & mandatory gear
    • Travel: flights/airlines, hotels, insurance for travel & race
    • Waivers for the workshop – please review
    • Personal responsibility
    • Training
    • The Yukon – what to expect for weather/temps, remoteness, emergency, access points.
    • The routes: 100, 300 and 430
    • Questions
  • Homework:
    • read race reports
    • review trail description
    • upload GPX tracks (there are free websites that allow viewing)
    • BICO

Meeting #2 (2.5 hrs):

  • Bivy
  • Stove/fuel
  • Layers: clothing, gear, shoes
  • Headlamps, batteries, electronics, battery packs
  • Questions
  • Homework – submit your down jacket photo, specs, weight, fill. Photo of you in it. Submit a video or photos of stove lighting, and one of your bivy system (we need to see brand, fill, model, rating (R value), foamie and air mat system).
  • One on ones – book with me ASAP – must be done well before travelling to the Yukon.
  • Travel plans – please email me your flight number and arrival date/time in Whitehorse
  • Workshop plan – overview/questions

2. Itinerary in-person module (cost CAD tbc.), January 28th-Feb1st, 2023

Whitehorse, Yukon

January 28th, 2023 – Day One

10:00 Transport from downtown Whitehorse to hostel

11:00-13:00

  • Settle into rooms
  • Review agenda for the day/weekend
  • Intros/biggest fears and/or main concerns for the race
  • Waivers/forms
  • Housekeeping: hostel rules, hot springs use/location, coffee shop location & hours

13:00-14:00 Lunch (veg options)

14:00-17:00

  • Rental gear handout
  • Kit check (all mandatory gear must be present)
  • Stove, bivy, sled packing practice – Instructors will demo their systems completely from packing the sled & bike to stopping to boil water and setting up the bivy.
  • We will go for a short walk from the hostel to test sleds and rental gear.

17:00-18:00 Address any gear issues/free time

18:00

  • Dinner – vegetarian/vegan option depending on participants needs
  • During dinner we will review plan for the next day, chat casually about anything.
  • Free time to go to the hot springs or practice on your own with gear
  • Catch up for anyone arriving late

January 29th , 2023 – Day Two

07:00-09:00 Breakfast

09:00-12:00

  • Medical & first aid chat – Fabian & Gillian – from a wilderness survival standpoint and how to deal with issues during the race/common problems (trenchfoot, blisters, frostbite, chaffing, dehydration, etc.)
  • SPOT device/In reach/sat phone – what happens when a racer needs to quit between checkpoints – time frame, expectations, personal safety, etc.
  • Overflow – how to deal with overflow and likelihood of it being an issue (forecast/current conditions?). Complete breakdown of what to do in the event of falling into water
  • Packing tips, food prep, hydration systems
  • Trail etiquette

12:00-13:00 Lunch

13:00-14:00

  • Pack full kit for a sled pull
  • We will be gone until dinnertime so bring water/snacks

14:00-18:00

  • Sled pull from overland trail into the hills (~20 min drive to trailhead)
  • Practice a full clothing change – overflow simulation exercise

18:30

  • Dinner
  • Free time after dinner for casual conversation/hot springs

January 30th, 2023 – Day Three (day trip)

08:00-10:00 Breakfast

10:00-11:00

  • Pack your sleds and be 100% ready to go by 10am (full day out with lunch provided at Muktuk but bring your own trail meal for dinner)
  • You will need fuel, stove, matches, firestarter, water, spare layers, full sleeping system
  • This is a mock race day without the pressure of being timed or on a schedule, but the idea is to ‘do you’ and figure out a pace that works for the temp and manage your own breaks and layers
  • Pack everything you are planning to bring on the race with the exception of food for three days (aka for food just bring what you need for snacks for the day + your trail dinner)

11:00

  • Pick-up/transport to Muktuk Adventures (approx. half hour drive)
  • Depending on the road condition we will be dropped off up high and walk the driveway (about 4km) or be driven all the way down

12:00 Lunch provided by Muktuk at their lodge.

13:00

  • Leave for Old Dawson Trail
  • The stretch is about 20 km – it can take 3-5 hours depending on pace; it is all frozen river travel
  • The group can spread out so be prepared to be alone. An instructor will be at the very back and the very front, and one somewhere in the middle. We will have a snowmobile for support, and a well-marked trail leading to where we will finish
  • The finish location is off the river and in the forest near the overland trail parking lot

17:00

  • Approximate arrival at Overland Dawson Trail parking area
  • On arrival find a spot to set up your bivvy site – *off* the trail but in sight
  • Do this as fast as you can – bivy, stove, melt & boil water for your meal, change your shoes & base layers (if they are damp) and ‘get ready for bed’
  • We will be hanging out here for a while! The idea is to understand what it feels like to work hard for a few hours and then stop to rest and cool down. This practice can save your life – it’s a safe place but imagine being alone and having a sense of urgency if it’s very cold and you are tired and hungry
  • Build a wood fire as quick and efficient as you can
  • We need to see the fire made quickly, stove lit quickly, and water boiling. Complete your tasks with efficiency

19:00 (time is approximate – depends on the day and how the bivvy goes)

  • We will transport folks back to the hostel once we wrap up
  • When we get back to the hostel it will be free time to unpack/soak
  • Will have nachos or some kind of finger food snack

January 31st, 2023 – Day Four

07:00-09:00 Breakfast

09:00-12:00

  • Debrief trail outing and address any gear concerns/malfunctions/etc.
  • Review trail descriptions for 100, 300, 430 where applicable
  • Chat about fatigue & decision making & mental strength
  • Problem solving exercise/instructor stories on mistakes/solutions etc.
  • Discuss pre-race schedule
  • Where to shop in Whitehorse for food/gear etc.
  • Look at weather forecast – should have a good idea for race weather by this point
  • Feedback forms to participants (follow up with online anonymous survey post-race)

12:00-13:00 Lunch

13:00-17:00

  • Guest speaker (tbc.)
  • Split into groups for outdoor session – each instructor lead 4-5 people who want to practice similar things (fire making, stove, bivvy, walk, etc).

17:00-18:00 Free time

18:00

  • Dinner
  • Free time/hot springs

Feb 1st, 2023 – Last Morning

07:00-departure

  • Breakfast
  • Clean up
  • Final group meeting – hand in feedback forms, any last questions

10:00-12:00

  • Begin shuttling to town
  • Hotels may allow early check-in or hold onto gear until you can – sleds can stay in the U-Haul until check in
  • There are nice places to have lunch in town and walk around/shop

Cost:

Full course (online group/meetings/one on one seession): CAD 1,150.00 (minimum of 7 participants)
Online only (online group/meetings/one on one seession): CAD 200.00
Day trip only (including transport): CAD 200.00
Day trip only (excluding transport): CAD 75.00

For more information on the training course and booking it, please contact Jessie at jessie.gladish@hotmail.ca