Adventure Sports The Yukon Arctic Ultra - Yann Besrest Butler

Published on March 17th, 2015 | by Editor

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The Yukon Arctic Ultra: The World’s Toughest Endurance Race

Short of strapping yourself to a rocket and orbiting the Earth for the weekend it’s getting very tricky indeed to find interesting and unique ways to spend your leisure time. This situation is compounded by the fact that for many, time away from work is worthless unless you’re shaving years off your life by pushing physical and mental limits to their extremes.

Well, fear not, the Yukon Ultra Marathon is the next best thing to home-made space travel…

The Yukon Arctic Ultra - Yann Besrest Butler PHOTOGRAPHER YANN BESREST-BUTLER - www.yannbb.com
The Yukon Arctic Ultra - Yann Besrest ButlerPHOTOGRAPHER YANN BESREST-BUTLER - www.yannbb.com
The Yukon Arctic Ultra - Yann Besrest ButlerPHOTOGRAPHER YANN BESREST-BUTLER - www.yannbb.com
The Yukon Arctic Ultra - Yann Besrest ButlerPHOTOGRAPHER YANN BESREST-BUTLER - www.yannbb.com

You might be wondering why we’re featuring an event which is basically taking place as we speak giving you zero time to take part, well that’s because you’re going to need at least a year to prepare mind and body for the thrashing of a lifetime.

The Yukon Arctic Ultra - Yann Besrest ButlerPHOTOGRAPHER YANN BESREST-BUTLER - www.yannbb.com

The Yukon Ultra is an annual race on foot, ski, bike or sled that winds its way through the winter wonderland of Canada’s territory in either the ‘fun’ 100 mile race or more serious 300 miler.


The Yukon Arctic Ultra - Yann Besrest ButlerPHOTOGRAPHER YANN BESREST-BUTLER - www.yannbb.com

For those intent on never seeing their loved ones again there’s a whopping 430 mile event run every other year. Now in its tenth year just 284 people from 23 countries have taken part with 67% of them completing their race. It claims to be the toughest ultra marathon in the world and from where we’re looking it’s hard to argue with. The temperature can go below -50 Degrees Celsius and then there’s the small matter of sleeping.

The Yukon Arctic Ultra - Yann Besrest ButlerPHOTOGRAPHER YANN BESREST-BUTLER - www.yannbb.com

Unlike other adventure races this one doesn’t stop each day; many competitors will forgo any sleep for the first 48 hours. Canadian competitor Greg McHale, who won the 430 mile competition last year, was on the move for over 200 hours, the guy who came fourth was out for more than 300 hours. 


The Yukon Arctic Ultra - Yann Besrest ButlerPHOTOGRAPHER YANN BESREST-BUTLER - www.yannbb.com

For the big one you need to be able to prove you have previous cold weather race experience. Of course you’ll need all the winter kit you can get your hands on whatever race you decide to undertake and race goers are fitted with a transmitter which will indicate their position every 10 minutes.

The Yukon Arctic Ultra - Yann Besrest ButlerPHOTOGRAPHER YANN BESREST-BUTLER - www.yannbb.com

 So what do you need to do in order to qualify? Well, apart from the 430 mile race you just need to be as physically and mentally robust as granite, there are no official set qualification criteria, and hikers seem to fare just as well as marathon runners.


The Yukon Arctic Ultra - Yann Besrest ButlerPHOTOGRAPHER YANN BESREST-BUTLER - www.yannbb.com

There are also race marshals on skidoos patrolling as much of the course as they can. Everyone carries as much food for survival as is practical but there are set check points at which you can place drop bags prior to the event and at one of these you’re guaranteed a hot cooked meal every day.

The Yukon Arctic Ultra - Yann Besrest ButlerPHOTOGRAPHER YANN BESREST-BUTLER - www.yannbb.com

Robert Pollhammer one of the race organisers suggests without any irony that you’ve got to enjoy the cold – every year there are the serial adventure race completists who attempt the challenge without really thinking about how chilly it might get and just how comfortable they are with the cold. And for all of us whose minds are willing but bodies are weak, worry not.

The Yukon Arctic Ultra Marathon is reckoned to be 70% about mental strength.

The Yukon Arctic Ultra - Yann Besrest ButlerPHOTOGRAPHER YANN BESREST-BUTLER - www.yannbb.com
The Yukon Arctic Ultra - Yann Besrest ButlerPHOTOGRAPHER YANN BESREST-BUTLER - www.yannbb.com

So there you have it; if you’ve got it ‘upstairs’ you’re almost at the finish line, which begs the question ‘just how unfit can you be and still try to conquer the world of extreme sports?’ any stories/examples/confessions gratefully received.  Now where did I put my lucky bobble hat?

The Yukon Arctic Ultra - Yann Besrest ButlerPHOTOGRAPHER YANN BESREST-BUTLER - www.yannbb.com

Want to know more? A couple of years ago we interviewed UK entrant Tim Williamson on what it was like competing in the world’s toughest endurance race…


 

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Editor

Some say he once drunk Keith Richards under the table, and that if he could be bothered, he could crack the Da Vinci Code in 43 seconds. All we know is he's called…the Chillisauce Editor.



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