As already announced yesterday, we will have our race start at Takhini Hot Springs. Athletes were informed today at the pre-race dinner that there is only one change to yesterday's plans. And that is concerning the distance for the 100 and 300 milers on the "out and back". Instead of 12 km, they actually do need to run about 20 km out, back and then out again to make up for distance lost through due to our new start location.
Other than that the timing as such remains as planned. Loading of the sleds at 09:00 AM in front of the Coast High Country Inn. Transfer buses for the people are ready from 09:15 AM and scheduled to leave at 09:30 AM. Arrival at Hot Springs about 10:00 AM. There may be minor delays and it's hard to tell with all the loading and unloading if we will make our 10:30 AM start. It may a bit later but at 11:00 AM at the latest we want to get going.
The Hot Springs will be open from 10:00 AM until 10:00 PM! So, anybody who watches us start can enjoy this unique experience right afterwards.
We had a great dinner tonight at the Coast High Country Inn. Most important information had been past on during training course and trail briefing. So, there were not too many things that still needed taken care of. Food was excellent and everybody seemed in a great mood and anxious to finally get going tomorrow.
Now Nic, one of our volunteers, is waiting in the library until 11:00 PM for athletes to bring their drop bags. I am writing some more news updates and finalise some paper work. Then that's it. It's race time!
Due to the hard trails we do expect a fast race. It will be beautifully sunny and not too cold.
Trackleaders.com is having difficulty getting the SPOTs to us in time. I had mentioned it already previously. Timing was too tight anyway but deteriorating weather conditions meant that courier companies could not guarantee over night delivery to Whitehorse. Matthew from Trackleaders.com then bought a ticket with the intention of bringing the SPOTs himself (from North Carolina!). But of course regular flights were also facing bad weather. After a long nightmare he did end up in Seattle and will now fly on to Vancouver. However, he won't make tonights flight. There were too many delays. The earlist - if all goes well - I will have the SPOTs will be tomorrow at 3:00 PM. We will see.
All this does mean that the rental SPOTs can't be given out in time for the start. Due to "out and back" this is not a big problem as it would have looked "funny" anyway. All the going back and forth off our original route. However, we do of course want everybody to head north with the SPOTs on their sleds. Let's keep our fingers crossed.
The athletes using their own SPOT should be visible already tomorrow as soon as the link goes live.
Our original plan was a start of the race at Rivendell Farm since the owner, Rolland and Mary Girouard, once again have prepared the checkpoint for us and we already put in the land trail on the farm property. However, due to the bad conditions on the Takhini River, we had to come up with something else.
Takhini Hotsprings came to the rescue. They immediately offered their support and are happy to have us there for the start of our race and also as a finish location for the marathon. We are still working out some minor details but the decision is final.
If you would like to find out more about the Takhini Hotsprings, please check out their website.
We will load all the sleds in front of the High Country Inn on January 30th at 09:00 AM. When the sleds are loaded, athletes will get on a school bus and be brought to the start. With all the loading, unloading and transfers, it is likely we will not be able to start at 10:30 AM. That's not a problem, though. We will start when everyone and everything is ready. In order for the transportation to work, it is crucial that everyone is on time. Once the truck and the bus have left, taking a taxi is the only option. And that would be quite costly.
Now that we have a new start location, what does this mean as far as the trail is concerned? Well, we tried hard to prevent it but unfortunately, it does involve an "out and back". The marathon athletes will run 20 km north and then come back to the finish line at the Hot Springs. The good news is from 4 PM the hot pools are open. So, anybody who feels like it can take a well deserved and relaxing bath.
For the 100 and 300 mile participants it will be a bit different and tougher. Mainly mentally. As they need to go out, come back and go out again - about 12 km each way - to have their total distances when they finish. And no relaxing bath ... Checkpoint rules for ultra distances are the same as at Rivendell. They are not allowed inside.
Due to more open water on the Yukon River, overflow and ice without snow (which makes marking pretty impossilbe) and generally bad trail conditions we have decided NOT to start at Shipyard's Park. We are currently evaluating our options.
Since the start location will be out of town we will organise transportation for the gear and the athletes. The timing is yet to be confirmed but at this point we plan to load all sleds into trailers in front of the Coast High Country Inn at 09:30 in the morning on January 30th. Athletes please be advised not to pack anything that may break if another sled is but on top of yours, e.g. maybe stoves. But these items in a separate bag and take these with you on the bus. When you get to the start location you can finalise the packing.
Also, all athletes please be advised that it will be very important to be on time. If you are late for a start in Whitehorse, it's not too big a deal. But if you are late this Thursday, it will be difficult and/or stressfull to catch up.
The new start location will be confirmed hopefully later today. Then I will also confirm the timing.
The Yukon Quest seems to have decided that the final stretch into Whitehorse at this point is unsafe for dog teams. One of the reasons is the partially very slippery surface. It would be difficult to control the sled and dogs can injur themselves. Because of this decision Gary will go out on the trail once more tomorrow and then we will make a final call as to whether it is safe enought for humans. If it is we will start at Shipyard's Park. I just need to warn everyone that being safe does not mean it's going to be pleasant. The first 10 km will be a very challenging trail. To say the least ... If the decision is that it is unsafe for us as well, we will announce a new start location tomorrow.
Thanks Gary for the great effort and drive carefully!
If we do start at Shipyard's park, we will offer a shuttle service for the sleds as there is not enough snow on the walkways. The sleds will be loaded onto our trailers at the Coast High Country Inn at 09:30. Be on time! The athletes themselves please then walk to the start line.
If we do start at a different location, again, we will of course transport the sleds to the start line. Since the location will be further away from downtown Whitehorse, we will then also offer a shuttle for the athletes.
Trail conditions further down the trail are better. Mike reported that the land trail to Dog Grave Lake is hard packed and fast. The trails on the lakes also seem to have frozen. But do not step off the trail whenever you are on water! Keep this in mind for breaks and when you want to sleep between checkpoints. Be sure you are on land.
Looking at the current forecast there is a good chance that the 100 mile athletes will experience temperatures down to - 20 °C or maybe even a bit colder. For the 300 milers it will likely go down to - 30° C or lower.
This is the schedule for the next few days. With the updated timing for the indoor part of our training course
January 27th, 2014
17:00 - 18:00 Hand-Out of the rental gear, Coast High Country Inn
January 28th, 2014
11:30 - 14:00 First part of the YAU training course (indoor) - for signed up athletes only, Coast High Country Inn
18:00 - 21:00 Second part of the YAU training course, trails near Whitehorse, meeting point in front of the Coast High Country Inn; again, only for athletes who signed up for the training course
January 29th, 2014
08:00 - 09:00 De-brief of the training course, Coast High Country Inn
09:00 - 10:30 Official trail briefing and hand-out of SPOT units for ALL athletes, Coast High Country Inn
11:30 - 14:00 Gear check for all participants who did not participate in the training course, hand-in of any missing paper work, hand-out of maps, race bibs, Coast High Country Inn
15:00 - 16:00 Briefing for volunteers, Coast High Country inn
from 17:00 Pre-race dinner for all athletes and volunteers, Coast High Country Inn
January 30th, 2014
10:30 Start of the Yukon Arctic Ultra 2014, Shipyard's Park, Whitehorse (start location tbc.)