Not much longer now. Feb. 4th at 10:30 AM this year’s Montane Yukon Arctic Ultra will start. So far things are looking good. It is a bit warm and that does affect the trail conditions. However, it looks like it will not result in us having to change the start area. And since the forecast is for cooler temperatures again, we should be fine.
Gary has been out today for a first run of marking to Rivendell Farm. Stewart, Jo, Mike, Jessica and Robert Siefke were at Dog Grave Lake setting up that remote checkpoint. Snow on the trail there is very low in places and there is overflow.
Diane is preparing all other checkpoints and items which will be handed out to the athlete soon. Thank you Julie Pritchard for helping with this today!
So, it’s all falling into place. The athletes who already are here enjoy the relatively mild weather, training, shopping and relaxing before their great adventure. Anyone who is on their way or leaving for Whitehorse shortly I want to wish a safe journey!
There are no changes planned to the schedule:
February 1st, 2016
17:00 - 18:00 Hand-Out of the rental gear, Coast High Country Inn. If you can't be there during that time please leave a message for me at the front desk of the hotel or contact me beforehand and we will arrange for a different time.
February 2nd, 2016
12:30 - 15:00 First part of the YAU training course (indoor) - for signed up athletes only, Coast High Country Inn
17:00 - 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
February 3rd, 2016
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
February 4th, 2016
10:30 Start of the Yukon Arctic Ultra 2016, Shipyard's Park, Whitehorse
Paperwork in a race like this is important. So, I urge all participants to help us with this. When you come pick-up your maps, race bibs, etc. on Feb. 3rd from 11:30 to 14:00 please make sure you take the originals of all your paperwork with you. Unless you already sent the originals to me in Germany.
You will also be asked to sign the so called CARA waiver. This is a waiver from the Canadian Adventure Racing Association a necessary part in order for us to get insurance for the race. All waivers also must be signed by a witness.
If you have not signed up for the training course but would like to do it, please let me know asap. Otherwise, participation is not possible. If you participate I recommend you already in the morning prepare the kit you want to take along for the outdoor session. You do have from 15:00 to 17:00 to finalise your packing. But every year we have one or two participants who struggle to make it by 17:00. If you already did most of the packing before, you will be less stressed.
You do not need to take all your kit. I will check stove lighting, sleeping system and that you can build a wood fire. Of course you need a headlamp and the right clothing.
I have not been approached by anyone requiring vegetarian food. So, I assume that any vegetarians will have extra food as most of the checkpoint meals do contain meat.
Also, please keep in mind that for Dog Grave Lake you will need an expedition meal. We will serve soup upon your arrival. Just so that you get something warm into you. But that will not be enough.
In general, please keep in mind to eat and hydrate well. It will help you avoiding exhaustion, hypothermia and frostbite.
If you have any food allergies, make sure to ask about the respective meals. And take extra expedition meals or other food just in case.
I would like to remind all athletes that frostbite does result in disqualification. And even though right now we do not expect extreme temperatures, it does not have to be – 40 degrees C to get frostbite.
I also want to make everyone aware that our medical team is happy to help with any questions, looking at sore feet, etc. But they are not there to treat every little blister. They will give you advice and also help with bad blisters but we ask you to provide the necessary dressing yourself. Furthermore, they will not hand out painkillers to people continuing to run, xc-ski or bike. The medicine the team has is mainly for people who end their race and e.g. need a painkiller to make an evacuation by ski-doo more comfortable.
There is a chance we will not be handing out the SPOTs at the race briefing. I will only know then. Should that happen we will aim for distributing them at the pre-race dinner.
Please remember everything about the SPOTs that had been written in previous news updates (e.g. 911 button can only be pushed in a life threatening situation!). Also, do not forget to buy the right batteries.
Anybody using the deLorme inReach, I need the URL of your shared map. Please email as soon as possible.
For all those using a private SPOT, my cell phone for receiving SPOT text messages is 1-867-332-0698.
Marathon participants have to attend the briefing Feb. 3rd at 09:00. However, they do not have to attend all of the briefing. We will deal with the marathon first and then any athletes participating in this distance may leave.
Any marathon runners not requiring a transfer from the finish to Whitehorse please let me know by Monday if possible.
Drop bags can be handed in after the pre-race dinner until about 22:00. You can also take the drop bags with you to the dinner. Room for handing the bags in is the same we use for the dinner.
Please keep in mind that your drop bags
You can deposit things in your drop bags that you do not want to take with you anymore. As long as it is not something mandatory.
Marathoners can give us a drop bag for Rivendell Farm.
Please keep checking the news for updates!
All rental sleeping bags will be handed out in Whitehorse. In the past some European athletes already got their sleeping bags shipped to them prior to the race. Not this time. I am just mentioning this in case anybody who ordered one is wondering. I would also like to remind everyone renting a sleeping bag that it comes without a bivy bag and without a liner. Both of these products help giving some extra degrees of warmth and help keeping the sleeping bags clean. For that reason the liner is a must. Sleeping bags that are returned dirty will be cleaned at the expense of who rented. Bags with a damage will either be repaired or replaced and again any cost charged to the hirer. This goes for any rental gear. Therefore, all athletes with rental gear please have a good look at your gear before you start using it. Kind of like you would when renting a car …
Trail news that are reaching us so far are surprisingly good. It looks like there are no issues with open water or more than the usual overflow. There is a lot of jumbled ice on Pelly River but I believe the rangers got the trail in already. Overall, there has been little snow but it seems just about enough and it snowed again a couple of days ago. I am always cautious, though. Things can change right until the day before we start. If there are any major changes I will inform again.
Very important for anyone who wants to buy kit in Whitehorse, e.g. Neo Overboots:
"Welcome to Coast Mountain Sports, Yukon’s largest outdoor store!
Coast Mountain Sports is located in the heart of downtown Whitehorse at 4th and Main Street. We are the largest and most complete outdoor store of the north. We carry most major brands of equipment and clothing. Our staff boasts an incredible wealth of knowledge and can offer guidance so that you may find the right clothing and equipment for your next adventure.
We welcome all MYAU athletes and wish you a wonderful adventure in the North! You can also find us at www.cmsyukon.ca and please like our facebook page.
Happy New Year everyone!
Some things to remember for all MYAU 2016 athletes:
If you have any doubts at all on any of the above, please let me know. Especially the paperwork is important. And some of this is almost impossible to get organised once in Canada.
Not only did Derek Crowe help us with our new Fatbike. He also will be our race photographer for the MYAU 2016! Which is awesome because he is a Yukoner and knows the trail. As a matter of fact he finished the MYAU 2015 race to Dawson on his bike. He will not be able to join us on all 8 race days but I am sure he will still get many nice photos. Welcome to the team Derek Crowe! For some of his work please check out his website.
Derek Crowe at the MYAU 2015 - Copyright: Derek Crowe
As of now we can offer a special edition fatbike to anybody who wants to participate in the MYAU and needs wheels for it. This fatbike is also available to non-participants. Just before Christmas I got the first one and took it out for a test drive. It was fun!
Since I am not an expert myself, I was really lucky to get the support of Kevin Turek and MAXX-Bikes. Kevin is a very ambitious rider and has been working in a bike shop for years. He will also be the main contact for anybody interested in purchasing. MAXX-Bike is a market leader in custom bike production. CEO Uwe Matthies himself has been leading the project.
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. In case you have not told me already that you bring your own SPOT, please do so by December 25th at the latest.
Because we do have a sufficient number of rental SPOTs available, the SPOT will also be mandatory for the 100 miles!
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. 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 December 25th.
For our 2016 MYAU we have a new local sponsor. Fraserway RV will support us with a winterized RV for our crew. And also friends and family from athletes can rent an RV at a special rate. A 23-foot Motorhome with built-in generator for up to 5 nights costs only CAD 699 + tax (additional nights possible at regular winter rates). This amazing offer includes: Preparation Fee, CDR Insurance ($750 deductible), Convenience Kits (bedding, dishes…) and 1000 free kilometers.
In 2016 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 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 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 2016 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 December 10th. If I have not heard from you I will assume you need a rental unit and I will order one for you.
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 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 even have had survival training. In any case, it's good to be prepared and think about certain scenarios and what you will do.