In 2015 we will work with SPOT satellite tracking devices again. As with any technology, there are pros and cons. But overall the positive aspects are more than the negative ones. The main reason we have SPOTs is for their 911 function. And thankfully, so far it has only been used once. The 911 button to us means there is an absolutely life threatening situation. This also means if there is no life threatening situation, IT CAN’T BE PUSHED! Please keep in mind that the cost for a 911 rescue operation can be enormous and it has to be paid by the athlete or his/her insurance. Obviously, if life is at risk it just has to be done. But if you are lost, tired, exhausted or have any other problem that a good rest and common sense can solve, do not push that botton. If a good rest is of no help, there is a button on the SPOT that is called exactly that: „Help“. It is a signal to the race organisation that you do have a problem and want to end your race then and there. But otherwise you are fine and will wait for us to come.
The third function that is great for us and all those following you at home, is the tracking function. If your SPOT has got good exposure to the sky it will send your position to us several times per hour. This will then be updated to a MYAU section on Trackleaders.com.
The cons are that of course sometimes people use the „Help“-button when they really could have solved the problem themselves. Or they decided to use that button rather than going back to a checkpoint. Mind you, if you can’t walk anymore, that’s fine. Push it. But being tired is no reason. Please just take a good rest and decide then. Because if we have to „rescue“ someone who is actually perfectly fine and at the same time something serious happens, it is bad to have resources bound.
Another con is that it’s technology and it does not always work. Usually this is due to not operating the SPOT correctly. But it also may be technical failure. It means we don’t get a signal and people back home start to worry. In most cases race headquarter knows what’s going on, e.g. because we got in-/out times of a checkpoint or just recently had contact with the athlete.
Anyway, over all I would say the safety that SPOT brings to the race make it worth its while.
For 2015 the rental fee (tracking service, shipment and set-up included) is EUR 50/unit. If you bring your own SPOT, the set-up fee is EUR 20/unit. All those of you who bring your own SPOT and did not tell me that already, please email me by December 10th. If I have not heard from you I will assume you need a rental unit and I will order one for you.
Regarding the 100 mile race, I will have to wait until after December 10th to decide if SPOTs will be mandatory here, too. Interestingly, in our Facebook group in a small survey I did, there was a majority of people in favor of making SPOTs mandatory for the 100 miles. But I won’t know until mid December if I can get enough additional rental units. In any case, if you do the 100 miles and know already that you want to rent a SPOT or if you want to bring your own, please let me know.
Above I already talked a bit about SPOT and rescue. Now I just want to make sure everyone understands that no matter if it’s a „Help“ or a „911“ message, rescues in the winter wilderness of the Yukon will likely not be as quick as you would think.
If a „Help“ message is sent or a checkpoint calls us and asks for transportation of an injured athleted from a remote checkpoint, it depends on various factors as to how fast we can be. If for example an athlete is in relative saftey at that checkpoint and the weather is extremely cold and it would be a risk to send a ski-doo guide, then it will take as long as there is no more risk. In places like Scroggie Creek (430 miles only) there may also be the need for air evacuation rather than ski-doo. Depending on the circumstances it can be safer and quicker for a plane to do the rescue there. PLEASE note that air rescue to 100% has to be paid by the athlete! Also, we try to avoid ski-doo rescue at night. So, if you push the help button in the middle of the night it is very likely that only in the morning you will see us arrive.
Even a 911 mission can take hours. And again, if the weather does not permit, there is no air rescue at all. That is also, why it is so important to have basic survival skills, enough food, warm clothes and the right sleeping system.
I will not talk about survival skills or what to do or not to do in serious or dangerous situations. There is a lot of interesting literature on the market and pretty likely you have read at least one of these books already. Or you may even have had survival training. In any case, it's good to be prepared and think about certain scenarios and what you will do.
We got a new logo for the MYAU pretty much one year ago. And it was a nice one. However, I have not been 100% happy with it. Due to lack of time I used it anyway. With the help of MYAU competitor Peter Mild from Sweden, I re-started the project some weeks ago. We tried many versions and even had a look at the "wolf" idea again. But we decided that it's athletes that stand in the centre of everything and that's what it should be like in the logo. I think it turned out really well and I also like the maple leaf as a symbol of where we are. I hope you all agree with me.
Thank you Peter for the great job and your patience with me! If any of you ever need a really professional agency for corporate branding and graphic design, please check out Peter’s company www.milddesign.se.
This is just a reminder for all athletes who plan to enter the 2015 MYAU that our deadline for race entries is November 30th, 2014. This goes for the 100, 300 and 430 mile distances. Since sometimes people cancel on short notice please feel free to contact me also after this date. If the numbers on the race roster permit I may be able to accept your entry. People wanting to do the marathon can also sign up until mid January.
Once again Total North, a communication specialist company based in Whitehorse will supply the satellite phones for the MYAU. These phones play a vital role for our communication and thus for the safety of all participants. With the phones and the service we get from Total North, we know things will work perfectly.
They also offer sat phone rentals for participants. The daily rental fee is CAD 25. If you rent for a week it is CAD 125. Air time is CAD 2.50/minute. Alternatively, you can purchase air time bundles.
Just a quick reminder for everyone to please let me know if you wish to rent any gear (sled, sled bag, harness, sleeping bag) asap. Especially the amount of rental sleeping bags is limited and on short notice I may not be able to help.
Also I would like to remind all participants about our gear checks. We will look at your sleeping system (i.e. mat, sleeping bag, bivvy or tent) and we want to see if you can light your stove. Stoves that work with gas canisters are not recommended. It remains your decision if you want to take one anyway. The problem with these stoves is that depending on make and model they may not work in temperatures colder than – 20 degrees Celsius. So, if you take one please make at least sure it is a product that the manufacturer does recommend for extreme conditions. If you want to be on the save side, take an alcohol stove (like Trangia for example) or take a multi fuel like the MSR Whisperlite.
A very important part of your gear is the sleeping bag. Not only does it have to have the right temperature range. It also needs to have enough loft! If the label says “Extreme Temperature -40 degrees C” but the bag has no loft, it will not be accept. That is for your safety! If you are not sure about what condition your bag is in please check with a good outdoor retailer or friend who frequently uses down bags. Also, please note that using two down bags which each do not have any loft, will not result in a better solution.
Down jackets will not be checked but I want to mention some feedback I got in our facebook group when asking what type of down jacket people have used in the past. The main opinion was that for the MYAU you definitely should have an expedition type down jacket, like the Montane Deep Cold Down Jacket or similar. It’s not so much for when you are walking. Your other clothing should have you covered for when you are on the move. This jacket is more for your breaks and in case of an emergency. Also, this type of down jacket can help you get more out of your sleeping system. If you wear it on the move and sweat a lot, it won’t be of much use when you get in trouble.
As always all 300 and 430 mile athletes will have to carry a SPOT unit. If you already do have a SPOT, please let me know as soon as possible as it will help me give Trackleaders.com a more accurate guess as to how many devices I need. If you use your own SPOT there will be a small set-up fee to include it in our tracking. If you don’t have a SPOT you will be able to rent. More info on this soon.
100 mile athletes do not have to use SPOTs. However, you are welcome to get connected with your own unit or you can rent one from us, too.
Yann Besrest-Butler will be official race photographer of the MYAU 2015. He already helped with race photography in 2011 along with Mark Gillett. In 2015 Yann will be back and once again take great pictures. If you want to see his work please check out our photo gallery. Apart from taking pictures at great adventures, Yann also likes something a bit more calm. Although, thinking about it, it’s probably just as much of an adventure … just different. Yann is a really great wedding photographer. Check out his website and you will see what I mean. So, if you are planning on getting married anytime soon or know someone who does, he is your man.
Rates are without tax and breakfast is not included.
Make sure you visit their bar and try the world famous Sour Toe Cocktail – after 430 miles of Yukon Quest trail it will be the grand finale of your adventure!
First of all, I want to welcome all athletes who have signed up for the race so far! I hope you all enjoy your training and preparation phase.
Less than 6 months to go. About time for another update. The reason why it has been a bit quiet on this website is the re-launch of Racelite.de. Our online-shop needed an update and I more than happy with the result. Unfortunately, the new design so far only is in German. English will hopefully follow before the end of the year. Until then you can check out our range of clothing and gear at the „old“ Racelite.com.
Talking about gear. All MYAU participants can get 20% discount on Montane products bought through Racelite.com. If you prefer you can order products also by phone or email. In a couple of weeks the new winter range will be available. So, make sure you check it out. Montane has got many items that are perfect for an incredible adventure in the midst of Yukon winter.
After the end of August entry fees will go up. Therefore, if you know for sure you want and can join us, you should use the opportunity to save some money.
Now is also a good time to book your flights and hotel. Flights are more affordable than closer to race time. And because of the Quest being in Whitehorse with us you should organize your accommodation as soon as possible. Our partner hotel as always is the Coast High Country Inn. Information on room rates and the group booking number you will find here.
Earlier than normal I put online the preliminary schedule leading to our start. It should help you decide on your timing. One important part of that timing is our training course. Please note that you need to participate in case you do not have any prior experience with the extreme cold.
In general please keep in mind that it helps not to arrive last minute. Every year a few athletes have the problem that their gear does not arrive with them. If you then only have 1 day to sort everything out, it can become a bit of a nightmare. One possibility for you to get your gear to Whitehorse without problems is to book an Air North flight from Vancouver. They have bigger planes than Air Canada and thus less problems with bulky and/or overweight luggage. The only risk there is that your flight to Vancouver can’t delay and of course gear can always be stuck in other airports prior to Vancouver. Having said that, so far Air Canada has always managed to get „lost“ baggage to Whitehorse in time. So, no reason to panic.
As always we will have rental sleds, harnesses, sled bags and sleeping bags. Information on rental gear you find in the service section. Supply is limited. The sooner you book your rental gear, the better. If you have questions regarding gear rental please let me know.
The MYAU has always been very lucky in having an awesome support team. And I am really happy that for 2015 many of the key crew members have confirmed already. Diane will once again co-ordinate the medical and volunteer teams. With her will be her friend Lucy who already was with us in 2013. Gary will do the same for the ski-doo guides. One ski-doo support team will once again be Glenn and Spencer. Mike and Jessica will not have time to prepare Dog Grave Lake checkpoint but they will be at the checkpoint during day 1 and 2. Mark (Hines) and Murray will take care of Scroggie Creek. Gerard will be in charge of Indian River. Libby Gregory who is new to the team will help me with the race headquarter. That way we can inform local and international media better during the race. Also, Libby will support me with race updates for the website.
I will introduce more staff and volunteers as they confirm.
The Montane Yukon Arctic Ultra 2015 will start on Feb. 8th. Like every second year the Yukon Quest will start the day before we do. This means all our participants can also have the unique experience to see the Quest mushers and their dog teams leaving Whitehorse.
Whilst trail conditions this year made us change our start to the Takhini Hotsprings, we do plan to go back to our normal start area which is Shipyard's Park in Whitehorse.
I will try to get the Applications & Waivers ready for next Monday. For entry fees and application procedures please also check the Application section on this website.