Yukon Arctic Ultra 2014 has started

Today's logistics before the start worked perfectly. Thanks to perfect service at the Coast High Country Inn, great help from Takhini Transports and the best crew in the world we got to Takhini Hot Springs in time. 

Arriving here was a bit of a surprise when it comes to temperatures. Whitehorse felt warm but at Takhini Hot Springs it was rather chilly. We made our traditional start photo and the athletes left at 10:30 AM. Reports still are that the trail is rock hard. So, they should be fast. Especially the mountain bikers. 

Our Up North Wall tent is set up, ready and heated and we are now finalising checkpoint work. We will be here until certainly late this afternoon. If any locals want to join us welcoming the marathon finishers or seeing 100 and 300 milers, please feel free to do so. The Hot Springs are open and Café Balzam will be open from about 2 PM. 

YAU on facebook

There are currently many interesting discussions on our facebook group, e.g. regarding the right type of shoes, flights, etc. If you have signed up for the race and are interested in input from others, please join us there. If you already did the YAU and want to share your experience with others, feel free to do so.

You will find the link to the YAU facebook group on our website in the top right corner. If you have signed up and can't access the group please let me know and I will look into it.

Montane products for YAU athletes

This is just a quick reminder to all athletes who signed up for the YAU 2014 that you get a 20% discount on any Montane clothing bought from Racelite.com. If you do not find the product you are looking for contact us and we will organise it for you.

Montane has got a lot of product which is great for the Yukon. That is why we sell it in our store and why we are so happy to have them involved in the race. Their stuff is very high quality, extremely functional and has got a fair price.

For winter 13/14 they have got some exciting new pieces. One of these is the Deep Cold Down Jacket.

Other favorites which have been tried and tested in the Yukon are:

And there are many more. If you need any advise please just let me know.

Crew, checkpoints and trail

A large part of the organisational work has been done already. Our checkpoints are confirmed and most of the crew is on board, too. All people with plenty of YAU experience. So, you are in the best possible hands.

Regarding the trail I will update you a bit closer to the race. As always trail conditions will depend on the weather during the trail breaking phase (especially the first 20 miles) and the weather just before race start. I keep my fingers crossed.

SPOT tracking

Once again we will use SPOT units to track the 300 mile athletes. For this distance the SPOTs are mandatory. We rent the units out and I will soon give some more details on this. 100 milers can also use a SPOT if they want to. Again rental is possible. Just contact me if you want to do that.

You can also use your own SPOT. I will just need the URL of your shared link page and the ESN number in the battery compartment of your unit. Your tracking service needs to be active. There is a small fee to link you to our set-up.

If you have a SPOT we, your family, friends and collegues can follow your progress during the race via a link on our website which leads to Trackleaders.com.

Other advantages are that you can push a "help" button which will make us come out to rescue you. If you are in an absolutely life threatening situation you can also push a "911" button. This will initiate an official search & rescue mission by the local authorties in which we will assist. Beware that such a mission can cause a lot of cost to the athlete if not properly insured.

Here is what our tracking in 2013 looked like: http://trackleaders.com/yukonultra13.

YAU 2014 will start at Takhini Hot Springs

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.  

YAU 2014 start date confirmed

As you may have already seen on our "Welcome" page next year's start date has been confirmed. The YAU 2014 will take place from January 30th to February 7th. All those of you keen on signing up please email me and I will send you the Application & Waiver.

How and where do you get information about the YAU?

There are many things you can do to be up to date.

  • There is our website with our section.
  • You can read Jessica Simon's crime thriller "From Ice to Ashes" based on the Yukon Arctic Ultra - I think we are the only ultra race in the world which has ever been the setting for such a book. It's fun to read and you learn a bit about the race. I have 8 signed copies here if you want to order one (CAD 20.00 plus shipment). Otherwise, please try Amazon or similar.
  • Another must read book is Mark Hines book on the Yukon Arctic Ultra. If you search Mark's name on Amazon you will get to the book. This one is not fiction. It's a detailed story about how Mark has experienced the YAU and very informative.
  • You can watch Scott Gilmour's documentary of the YAU 2011 free of charge and online see right on our website or if you follow this link: http://vimeo.com/30287934
  • Join us on facebook to ask questions any time; see link on our website or go to: http://www.facebook.com/groups/40662499911/
  • And of course ask any questions any time via phone or email (see Contact details)

YAU 2014 - final report

The 11th edition of the Yukon Arctic Ultra is history. Once again the Yukon has shown us everything it has in store. From warm temperatures down to – 40 ° degrees, ice and open water, sun, snow, northern lights and endless wilderness. It was a great race and I want to thank all athletes who came to test their limits.

I also want to thank the entire support crew: Gary & Josh, Glenn & Spencer for the endless hours on their ski-doos and the effort to always be there when needed, the volunteers, staff and checkpoint crew Jessica & Mike, Debra, Marta & Graham, Bernard, Laure-Anne & Anaïs, Nic, Mei, Libby and Diane.  All you guys have once again created the atmosphere for the athletes which makes the YAU different and special. Thank you for that and for putting up with long days and lack of sleep. I hope to see you all back!

A special thanks also goes to Don from Scuttlebutt Lodge (still thinking about that Pizza!), the Kruse family and Pelly Farm for opening your homes to us and supporting the YAU year after year. Thank you Takhini Transport and Takhini Hot Springs for helping us out in a very uncomplicated way with our start change. And thank you to all our sponsors and supporters – locally and internationally.

Last but not least, thank you to Matthew from Trackleaders.com for getting on a plane and spending a lot of time and money to get the SPOT units to us in time. It was much appreciated and I know that people back home really enjoyed following everyone online.

It seems the YAU every year is a bit different. In 2014 for the first time trail conditions due to unseasonably warm weather meant we had to change the start line. Rather than starting at Shipyard’s Park in Whitehorse, we went to Takhini Hot Springs. The entire team there and the Cafe Balzam were great hosts and it worked out just fine. Of course it is a bit less fun to do an out and back but if the alternative is to go for a swim in the Yukon River, there is really not much choice. And I got the feeling that everybody had a good time nonetheless. And how many marathoners can walk straight from the  finish line into hot springs?

Apart from some soft spots it also became obvious that the trail is hard and that we would have a pretty fast race. We saw some very good marathon times, Stefano Gregoretti from Italy being the overall finisher with 3 h 35 min.  Kristin Daniel took first place in the women’s category with a time of 4 h 12 min.

One of the great surprises of this race was the fact that we had no athlete scratch at Dog Grave Lake. Normally we have to make several trips to get exhausted or injured athletes out of there. So, my congratulations to all athletes for making it safely to Braeburn through this remote part of our race course.

After some very warm days leading up to the start we also all felt that temperatures would change. Even on day 1 it was amazing how much colder it was just those few kilometers out of town.

Paul Trebilock had great time on his bike. For him conditions could not have been better. He flew down the trail and arrived at a time that will be hard to beat in future years. Second came local athlete Karl McEwan who litereally sprinted to the finish line, overtaking Simon Donato and placing 2nd overall and 1st on foot. Simon was on xc-skis and placed 3rd overall. Apart from being 3rd it was a great achievement to finish the 100 miles on his first try. So far all 100 mile xc-skiers needed to come back for unfinished business. Maren Kraft from Germany was the first woman to arrive in Braeburn. She had entered the race with her husband Mike as team True Love. And they really must love each other because we do not get too many teams reaching the finish line togeter. Let alone couples ;-)

Only one 100 mile athlete did not reach Braeburn. David Bohn had problems with his water bladder and decided not to risk anything. David was going strong and physically he would have had no problem to get there. So, we all hope to see him come back.

For the 300 miles things were looking good, too. Unfortunately, Daniele Modolo from Italy had to scratch after the marathon distance and his fellow countryman Davide Ugolini who was in the lead at the time had to stop in Braeburn due to injury. Everybody else left Braeburn Lodge in good spirits, trying to reach Carmacks before the 4 days and 12 hours cut-off.

Whilst the first 100 miles went really well for all athletes on the way to Pelly, the trail to Carmacks took its toll. Ali Bajway, Linda Pomeroy, Jorgen Thorsted, Stefan Zahlten and Tim Wilks had to scratch. Very bad blisters, back problems and other sports injuries were some of the reasons. All these athletes still enjoyed the challenge and it looks like we will see them back for another try.

Pietro Trabucchi and Gebriela Monti from Italy did reach Carmacks. However, it was just over an hour after the deadline. I felt bad about it but did re-enforce the rule as I think any other decision would be unfair to athletes who had the same problem in past years. Both were very understaning and appreciated the offer to continue unranked one stage further down the trail.

At that point in time Johnny from Denmark was already pretty close to the 300 mile finish. Even though we had to hold him in McCabe for safety reasons, he won the race and set a new record. 2nd came another Dane, Torben Jensen. He had demonstrated great determination as for a long time already he was on the move with shin splints. Rank 3 went to Brian Bell from Ireland who not only entertained us with his stories and funny race slogans („It’s further than you think ...“) but also was in great shape when he finished. A strong candidate for our 430 miles ... James Binks and Robert Hodges came in 4th place. To see James Binks age 69 and Robert Hodges age 62 finish the YAU 300 miles was very inspirational to all of us. It actually seemed that James and Robert got better and better with every mile. Awesome achievement! Next time somebody tells me he or she is too old for something I will have story to tell them.

Next to finish were Eliot Caton and John Greenslade. John had been in pain for quite a while with some very bad blisters on his toes and swollen feet. The latter likely due to dehydration. But John had gotten this far and was not going to stop. This also meant that they were able to finish as team Eliot Edward Endurance. Possibly they are the only team ever to manage this. I still need to check my records in order to confirm.

Pietro and Gabriela also reached the 300 mile finish. They left out the Carmacks to McCabe stage but I have no doubt they would have been able to go all the way. And to proof it we will likely see them back next year, too.

To me one of the highlights was once again Pelly Farm. It’s always been a magic place with incredibly nice people. When I am there, see the athletes come in and how they are welcomed I feel a great sense of happiness. It’s like a therapy from the stress of every day life and you learn again what should matter in life: family, friends, a culture of hospitality and to have time for all these things. Thank you Sue and Dale for this lesson. And to make things even better Pelly Farm switched on the Northern Lights for all of us. What a great way to end the YAU 2014.

I still need to finalise the results table. Bare with me.

As for next year’s YAU, it should open for entries soon because the Quest set their start date already. I wish all the athletes a quick recovery and many more adventures in 2014.  

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  • 01 October 2017
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    Fall is here and temperatures are getting colder. This usually means I get asked more and more questions about the upcoming MYAU, e.g. re. timings, flight bookings, accommodation, etc. Therefore, I wa...

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