Our world can be a strange place. The current US election results, climate change, wars, refugee crisis, ... Anybody in their right mind sometimes has to wonder. So, it’s great to see that there are people who care about others and help. Despite all difficulties.
Many athletes dedicate their participation in the MYAU to a good cause. In 2017 and hopefully beyond I would like to help with the MYAU as well. Obviously, there are many causes worth supporting. However, one charity has really inspired me and even has a connection with the Yukon. It is called Little Footprints, Big Steps.
Morgan Wienberg left the Yukon at age 18 to help people in Haiti after the devastating earth quake in 2010. What was meant to be a short trip changed her life and that of countless others. In 2011 she co-founded Little Footprints, Big Steps and has been part of it ever since. At a time in life when most people think about studies, career and all kinds of other things, Morgan decided to help rescuing children from situations of abuse, slavery, homelessness or severe neglect. Little Footprints, Big Steps do this by reuniting families, supporting education and opportunities for self-sufficiency and dignity through their programs and services and collaborations.
A big advantage of Little Footprints, Big Steps is that it is a small charity with limited bureaucracy. So any support really ends up where it should. As you will know from the news Haiti this year once again has been hit by natural disaster. The funds we can generate will be used for agricultural restoration for families who live in more rural communities. Which is where the hurricane completely wiped out all agriculture crops. Little Footprints, Big Steps will buy gardening materials, compost, seeds/plants/baby trees and hire a local agronomist to guide the families. Also Morgen and her team will have the kids in their safehouses involved in doing reforestation projects. What MYAU will do is to pay CAD 1 per every kilometer run by our marathon participants. And we will think about other ways to generate more contributions. Ideas welcome! Of course any ultra-athlete who wants to join in the effort is more than welcome to do so.
More news on this project will follow.
Almost everybody travelling to Canada now needs to apply for an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) before the actual journey starts. I recommend going to the eTA Application to apply for your eTA. You will find all information there and the application process is pretty simple. Also, if you go through that website it is only CAD 7.00. If you go through an agency that deals with these kind of services you likely will have to pay a higher fee.
In 2017 we will work with SPOT satellite tracking devices again. Because we do have a sufficient number of rental SPOTs available, the SPOT will also be mandatory for the 100 miles!
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 a couple of times. 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 button.
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 2017 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 their own SPOT and did not tell me that already, please email me by end of November.If I have not heard from you I will assume you need a rental unit and I will order one for you.
All athletes who bring their own SPOT please note that you should create and save a separate "Message Contact Profile" for MYAU. Under that contact profile, we recommend you do not include family at home on either type of distress message (Help & SOS) as they may worry when there is nothing to worry about. Inclusion of family on the Check-in /OK message is fine. Within the contact profile you need to define and include recipients for the Check-in / OK message, which in the past has been, "Still smiling" (this is best programmed to send only to email); Custom Message, which has been used for, "I'm taking a bivy" (email only as well); “Help” should be both email and text. SOS has no email option. You program a phone number only. IMPORTANT: There is a notes section for SOS, and it should read like this: "User is part of a human-powered race on the Yukon Quest Trail. If SOS is being transmitted, please phone the primary SOS contact directly, as for the purpose of the race, use of SOS is defined to mean life or death. Race central # (contact = Jo Davies) at 1-867-668-2777. Race director, who will at times be out of cell phone range on trail cell phone = tbc. NOTE: tbc. = Cell for primary Jo Davies."
You do not want GEOS emergency response center to waste time calling family. You want race central to be the first call. If you are bringing your own SPOT we will need to get your ESN-Number which is in the battery compartment and the URL to your shared link page.
Anyone using a SPOT – both own or rented – please keep in mind that you will need 4x AAA Energizer Lithium Ultimate (model # L-92) to power your device. The batteries are NOT included. Therefore, please bring these to the Yukon with you. Every year there are at least a few athletes who bring the wrong batteries, or partially used batteries. In the extremes of the Yukon, you are certain to experience tracker down time if you gamble on batteries. And the device may not work when you most need it.
If you have a DeLorme inReach you do not have to rent a SPOT. Trackleaders.com can include it on our race tracking map. In order to do so, we need the URL of your shared map. Please email as soon as possible. However, what I can’t tell you is how it works regarding distress messages. If you can set a profile it’s best if you use the same type of settings described above with SPOT. And make sure you have our contact details for getting in touch with text messages. Should you bring your inReach and not need a SPOT please let me know by end of November.
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 athlete from a remote checkpoint, it depends on various factors as to how fast we can be. If for example an athlete is in relative safety 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 Dog Grave Lake or Ken Lake 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 have had or will get survival training. In any case, it's good to be prepared and think about certain scenarios and what you will do.
I finally found a company that does high quality prints on functional clothing (as the one I had worked with before went out of business ...) So, now I am getting new MYAU Montane Extreme Smocks with our race logo made. It will sell for EUR 150 (RRP is EUR 189.95). If you are interested, please let me know.
Also, I can send in other Montane jackets to get the logo print on there. So, you can order e.g. a Montane Flux Jacket for RRP less 20% and for a charge of EUR 7.50 I can get the MYAU logo on it if you want. Due to seams not all product would work but I can help you in finding out
I will get logo patches made again soon, too.
Fraserway RV from Whitehorse will help us with one of their great winter ready RVs for the crew again! They also have a special offer for friends & family of athletes who may be there to see you racing and meet up with you at checkpoints. The package includes:
Price for the package is $792 + tax. If you are interested please email me at info[a]thegreatoutdoors.de. I will forward you the contact details.
It is maybe a bit early and things can still change but if you want to check the pre-race schedule, it was just updated. I made some changes regarding timing and we have had to make changes regarding locations. Not all activities will be in the Coast High Country Inn Hotel this time. On some occasions we will be in the Cold Rush Inn which is a bit closer to the center, about a 5 minute walk from the Coast High Country Inn.
Driving Force in Whitehorse have confirmed that they are happy to give a 10% discount again to anyone associated with the MYAU. So, if you have friends or family travelling with you who want to rent a car or if you want to rent a car before or after the race, please tell Driving Force you are part of the MYAU adventure and that you would like the 10% discount on your booking.
Driving Force Yukon Headquarter
Montane will once again be our main sponsor. If you have not checked out their products yet, please have a look at www.montane.co.uk.
This UK company has everything you need for your cold weather challenge. They are really strong in products with synthetic fill but also offer a great range of down jackets all of which use RDS (Responsible Down Standard) down and fleece products, softshells, accessories, etc. And I personally love the Montane Extreme Range which is not very light but perfect for Arctic Conditions – super tough, gets moisture away from the body like nothing else and has got an interesting price point. All MYAU athletes get a 20% discount on Montane product. If you are interested, please let me know.
Already now we have 78 athletes on the race roster. Which I am pretty sure for this time of year is a record! As always it’s a great mixture of race veterans and participants trying their luck for the first time. If you know for sure you want to participate but you have not signed up, please keep in mind that entry fees will go up again after the end of August. Also, because of the large number of athletes signed up already entry may not be possible until end of November. The race may be sold out before that. I will inform via newsletter, facebook and news on this website if this is about to happen.
Once again, the Downtown Hotel will be our exclusive partner for accommodation in Dawson City. We have a group booking number now which is # 627. If you already booked your room there you may want to let them know you are with the race. Rates are $120.00 per night plus tax, based on single or double occupancy. So, if you share a room it's $ 60.00/person. Triple or quadruple occupancy will add $15.00 more per night per guest. Obviously, it's tough to say for sure when you arrive but if you let them know I am sure they are flexible and do not charge for nights you do not use. It has always worked out fine in the past.
It will be great to be back!
Downtown Hotel in the summertime - copyright: Downtown Hotel