Since February 2003 almost 900 Montane Yukon Arctic Ultra (MYAU) participants have lined up beside the Yukon River to run, ski or bike their choice of 26, 100 or 300 miles along the Yukon Quest Trail. The race is non-stop, brutally cold and extremely challenging. This year, for the 17th edition of the race, an expected 65 athletes from 16 countries will compete, with more than half racing the 300 mile route.
“Once again we have an amazing race roster with great athletes from all over the world,” said Robert Pollhammer, MYAU race director. “It’s a perfect mixture between veterans, newcomers and athletes returning to finish unfinished business. As always, I keep my fingers crossed that they all reach their respective goals.”
The race is not supported, so participants must be completely self-sufficient. Cyclists load their bikes or sleds with shelter and food, melting snow when they need water. The race can be dangerous, especially at night when temperatures reach as low as -50 C and extreme cold is a major risk. New racers are encouraged to participate in training courses available immediately before the race, in the terrain and conditions that will be experienced on the course. The course itself can be anything from hard packed snow, to icy surfaces, soft snow, fresh snow and even areas with overflow. Racers must be extremely well prepared for a myriad of conditions and situations.
The current record for fastest 300 miles along the Yukon Quest Trail is held by American Rocky Reifenstuh. In 2003 it took him 98 hours and 15 minutes to finish the race. Every second year the MYAU includes a 400 mile option, where racers cross from Whitehorse to Dawson City along the trail. Particularly tough racers will have an opportunity to step up their game in 2021 and race the 400 mile option. This year’s race runs from Jan. 30 – Feb 7.