Last week on February 4th, saw the start of the Yukon Arctic Ultra. The 300, or 436 mile foot race from Whitehorse to Dawson City, Yukon is one of the toughest and coldest race in the world. Facing intense blizzards, long periods of darkness and temperatures as low as -50 degrees Fahrenheit, runners test themselves in a race for which there is is no purse prize.
First time participants have to take a mandatory course to develop the skills to deal with the cold environment and some of the dangers which can be expected like frostbite and hypothermia.
The 300 mile race is split into 9 stages/checkpoints of between 26 and 44 miles apart. Because of the often harsh weather conditions runners must also carry their own supplies like food and shelter in case they are forced to stop, or if they get lost as sometimes happens when fresh snow or wind covers the marked route.
The 436 mile race is split into 11 stages/checkpoints, the last 2 checkpoints being a staggering 65 and 99 miles apart! Below is a well made documentary about the Yukon Arctic Ultra.
The Yukon Arctic Ultra from Yukon Arctic Ultra on Vimeo.
For more information on the Yukon Arctic Ultra visit the official webpage http://www.arcticultra.de
Surprisingly the footwear used for Arctic Ultra races consists of lightweight waterproof trail shoes such as the Salomon XA Pro 3D Ultra GTX, the same shoes used for desert marathons! Because in extreme temperatures, emphasis is put on a well insulated sole as opposed to the upper. For more information on visit http://www.markhines.org/
But the hardest or best race is yet to come, because while there are many winter ultramarathons, the Iditarod Trail Invitational race across Alaska starting in a few weeks probably trumps them all with its a 350 or 1000 mile long course. Be sure to follow the race when it starts on February 26th at http://www.alaskaultrasport.com.
Read a short but interesting article on how to complete the 1000 mile race on foot visit http://www.muchbetteradventures.com