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.)
During the race I will write regular updates in this „News“ section. The frequency of news will not be consistent as we move north. More places now do have internet access. However, it's not like back home. As it gets more remote it may sometimes take a bit longer to get the information online.
Also, we have the results table on the top right which by Thursday will be updated with this year’s participants. There you will see the in and out times of all athletes for all the checkpoints. Last but not least, we will have a link to Trackleaders.com. By clicking on their logo you will be forwarded to the part of their website which features the current position of all athletes carrying a SPOT. This link will be connected with the Trackleaders.com logo on the right side near the top of our website. It’s not there yet but will by the time we start.
Please note that due to technical reasons or wrong usage a SPOT does not work. So, everybody back home please do not worry if a SPOT signal has not moved anymore for a long time or is not sending. We will check on it and try to solve whatever the problem may be..
Talking about SPOT ... we were informed by Trackleaders.com that the units possibly are late. So, we may have to hand these out on start day. Therefore, there is a chance that at 10:30 on January 30th you will not see any signals, yet. Just in case you are wondering.
Braeburn Lodge has got a public phone. If you get a phone card in Whitehorse you can make inexpensive calls to your family. Other places with such public phones are Carmacks and Pelly Crossing. Email access may be possible in Carmacks.