Yukon Arctic Ultra – November Newsletter

Race Roster Update

Since my last update the race roster has increased quite a bit. First of all I want to welcome all the marathon athletes, Richard Malz-Heyne, Sue Mackinnon-Dunn, Keith Thaxter, Tammy Reis and Cheryl Wishart!

New on the 100 mile race roster are local Claude Chabot who will xc-ski. That will be interesting to see! And there are Thomas Wiget from Switzerland and Sarah Hreczkun from Germany.
Stefano Miglietti is back in YAU action on the 300 mile race roster. He is joined by his Italian friend Enrico Ghidoni. Together they are Team TERRAZ. Simon Howell is back, too. And, yes, he will try to xc-ski it again! Are you sure you want to do that, Simon?. Last but not least, there is Greg Lindsey from Calgary who probably is used to some cold weather already.
Guess who is back to do the inaugural 460 mile race? Yes, they kept their promises. Klaus Schweinberger, Tom Wolter-Roessler and Joachim Rintsch (aka Fisse). They will all have a go at the ultimate YAU distance. I should also mention that Joachim is participating for the 4th time in a row! He already finished the 300 miles three times. For Klaus and Tom it will be their third YAU. Currently number 8 on the 460 mile race roster is Andy Heading. He already finished the 300 miles in 2005 coming second after Stefano.

To all of you good luck and fun for your training and preparations.

Organising team YAU 2007

I strongly believe that one of the main reasons why the Yukon Arctic Ultra has a very good reputation is its strong local staff. And I am very happy to be able to say that once again Shelley Gellatly, Jessica and Mike Simon and Gary Rusnak will be part of the organising team.
As most of you know Shelley already very successfully ran the 100 and 300 mile distance. In 2007 she will be running the 460 miles. So, most of the work she has been doing already or will do it over the next few months, e.g. organising the checkpoints and our food. Her (YAU) running experience, job and the fact that she is local make Shelley a true cold weather running expert. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask her.

Jessica and Mike will again be responsible for the remote checkpoints, i.e. Dog Grave Lake, Ken Lake and (new) Scroggy Creek. Also, Jessica will help co-ordinate media information and updating the standings on the Website. In other words, she will be our race headquarter. It is a vital task and very important to have a base where all information is gathered. Mike will actually be helping full time next year. A big part of his job will be Scroggy Creek. He already went on the trail from Pelly Farms to Dawson City and wrote a great trail report. Now there won’t be any surprises for him and his crew. Apart from that I am sure you will see a lot of him out on the trails.

Gary has been with the Yukon Arctic Ultra right from the beginning. He is responsible for and co-ordinates our snow mobile guides. That is one tough job and he and his team have always done it perfectly. He works very hard to make sure we always know where everybody is and how all the athletes are doing. And even tough he is motorized it is hard on the back – especially if you travel at the speed of light …

Safety out on the trail

Talking about “the speed of light”, I want to tell you about some things that are very important for athlete safety out on the Yukon Quest trail:

1) In the dark you need to be visible – for our guides, other snow mobiles and mushers. Ideally, both your sled and your back have something that is reflective. Also, your head torch should be switched on at all times.

2) If you hear a snow mobile coming (day or night), make sure it can pass by. If necessary step of the trail a bit.

3) If you come across a musher and his dogs, please step out of the way asap. If you get tangled up in a dog team the consequences for the musher may be very serious. The dogs may start to fight amongst themselves and get injured.

4) If you sleep between checkpoints NEVER sleep on the trail. You may be run over! Step of the trail and make it visible to our crew that you are sleeping there. That way we don’t loose count.

5) The trail is marked with wooden Quest markers. These have a bit of reflective material on the top. If you are on a trail where you don’t see any markers for a long distance you may have gone the wrong way. Stop, rest and think. Then decide. The YAU 2006 had quite a few places where marking was difficult due to lack of snow. Often the markings had to be done on rock hard river ice. In some places we used spray paint which worked fine during daytime but was hard to pick up at night. We will be better prepared this time.

6) Be careful when you get to overflow. You will hear more about what to do at the pre-race banquet.

7) Please help each other. We have had some cases where athletes were in trouble and other athletes did not hesitate to help, e.g. by building a wood fire to help somebody get warm again. There are scenarios, e.g. in a serious snow storm, where we can’t help.

Mandatory camp-out at Checkpoint 1

As was the case in 2006 only the marathon athletes will be allowed to stay inside a warm place at CP 1. Everyone else will not be allowed inside. For us this first checkpoint is the place where we can see how the participants handle the cold in a potentially dangerous situation, i.e. even though we warn every year, we notice that a lot of athletes arrive sweating like crazy. If athletes sweat in the arctic wilderness somewhere between checkpoints, there will be no place to warm up when the temperature suddenly drops. There will still be hot drinks (tea, coffee and chocolate), one hot meal and a big fire outside.

NEW in 2007 may be that we make our gear check already in Whitehorse and not at CP 1. I will make a posting on the forum and everybody who wants to give me an opinion on this issue is welcome to do so. Then I will decide.

The 460 mile athletes will NOT have to stop for a mandatory 4 hours at CP 1. These athletes are very experienced and we want to spread out the field in order to have it less busy at CP 2. All other athletes will still stop for 4 hours.

YAU training in Austria

In January 2006 for the first time I offered a training course in the Alps of Austria. Since I got great feedback from all participants I want to offer the training course again. I will open a thread on the forum where you can ask questions if you are interested. Of course you can also send me an email.
The focus will be on testing gear and endurance. Of course it is also a great opportunity to get to know other athletes and to exchange learnings. It does not replace the training course that will take place in the Yukon from Feb. 9th-10th where the focus will be more on survival, the race course and other important issues. However, athletes who come to Austria will get a 50% discount on the cost of the training course in the Yukon.

The rough schedule is as follows:

Thursday, Jan. 4th:

Arrival at Munich Airport approx. 10:00 AM.
For those of you coming from London Innsbruck Airport Austria may be a cheap alternative.
Transfer by shuttle bus to Leutasch, Tyrol (2 hours from Munich and 1 hour from Innsbruck)
Walk/snowshoe tour to our base camp (approx. 2 hours)
During the rest of the day we will talk about all kinds of things and go through kit, etc.
At night everyone will sleep outside and build a snow shelter. If it gets really cold we will do some testing regarding building a fire and lighting the stove.

Friday, Jan. 5th:

We will look for the coldest possible place that is within reach and go there for the night.
You will also do several hours of walking (without the pulk sled).
The night will be spent in that place. Testing gear.

Saturday, Jan. 6th:

You will be able to warm up at our base camp.
Little tour around the area. Maybe Sauna.
After lunch we get going for the big tour: 12 hours non-stop with the pulk sled behind (for those who have it). Then 4 hour break in the wilderness and another 4 hours of walking.

Sunday Feb. 7th:

You will get some sleep in the base camp.
At lunch time we will talk about the learnings.
We pack our things and leave for the airport. Flights out approx. 20:00.

Cost per person: EUR 300,-

The cost for the training course includes:
– all transfers
– accommodation in base camp
– guiding by professional mountain guide Saturday to Sunday

YAU shop and rental gear

I will put in a new order for the Kathoola crampons (KTS) next week. The KTS are a flexible traction system designed to be used with any common footwear from trail running shoes or hiking boots to snow boots. Kathoola’s 10-point gripping system is made from the strongest aluminum alloy and weighs only 19 ounces (540 g) per pair, making it the lightest 10-point system available. Straps and quick-release buckles make it easy to put the Kahtoola Traction System on any shoe. It is the ideal crampon for the 460 mile athletes. If you want to have a pair, please let me know.
Also, later this month my online shop Racelite.com will be available in English. There you will find all the gear you need for the Yukon Arctic Ultra. Shipment for Yukon Arctic Ultra athletes (within the European Union) will be free of charge until the end of December 2006!

Best regards,

Robert

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