Yukon North Of Ordinary

Sports archive for January 24, 2014

Slush, overflow worry Arctic Ultra organizer

Extended spring-like temperatures in the Yukon capital are wreaking havoc on the route of the Yukon Arctic Ultra.

By Marcel Vander Wier on January 24, 2014 at 2:56 pm

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Photo submitted

ARCTIC ULTRA GARNERS SPOTLIGHT – Television personalities Simon Donato, left, and Paul ‘Turbo’ Trebilcock, pictured racing in Iceland last season, will arrive in Whitehorse Sunday afternoon as they prepare to compete in the Yukon Arctic Ultra. Photo courtesy BOUNDLESS

Extended spring-like temperatures in the Yukon capital are wreaking havoc on the route of the Yukon Arctic Ultra.

The winter endurance race, which typically sees temperatures drop below -20 Celsius, follows the trail of the Yukon Quest sled dog race out of Whitehorse.

Race organizer Robert Pollhammer told the Star he is concerned about how the big thaw will affect this year’s race.

“I just got a report from the Canadian Rangers and also our team has been out on the trail,” Pollhammer explained via email. “The word ‘overflow’ gets mentioned way too often. Things can change from one day to the next, but in any case – safety comes first. If overflow and open water mean that we need to make changes to our race, we will do it.”

The 2014 edition of the race will see 53 competitors tackle the trail. Fifteen will take on the marathon distance, 22 will attempt the 100-mile distance to Braeburn (161 kms) and 16 will try to reach Pelly Crossing – a distance of 300 miles (483 km).

The marathon event is dominated by local athletes, while Whitehorse resident Karl McEwan is registered for the 100-mile event.

The rest of the field is made up of international athletes from across the world, the majority of whom will attempt the trek on foot.

Television personalities Simon Donato and Paul ‘Turbo’ Trebilcock will race the 100 miles to Braeburn with a four-man film crew for an episode in the second season of ‘Boundless,’ airing in March.
The show is a 10-part docu-series that follows the duo around the globe as they compete in the world’s toughest endurance races.

Boundless airs on the Travel and Escape Network in Canada, and the Esquire Network in the United States.

Donato, 37, will be the only competitor attempting to complete the route on cross-country skis, while the 48-year-old Trebilcock will be one of three racers on a mountain bike.

While the two were expecting frosty temperatures, Donato said the warm weather will result in a whole new set of challenges.

“We’ve planned on a bitterly cold race, not that we wanted that, because that would be a nightmare in it’s own way,” Donato said from his home in Canmore, Alta. “If it’s warm and soft, it will be a nightmare in the opposite way. Sure, we might be warm but we’re going to have more overflow with the river and get wet. That’s going to cause its own problems.

“But we’re not worried about that. We know this will be a fantastic race in a beautiful part of the world that we’ve all wanted to visit.”

Donato said the hardest race he’s run to date also dealt with temperatures of an extreme nature.

“Each race is difficult in its own way, but I’d have to say so far, the Sahara Race in Egypt (250-km ultra run) was toughest,” he said. “It was really the heat. I had never experienced something so hot in my life. It was brutal.”

Temperatures rose as high as 46 Celsius during Donato’s run, he said.

Pollhammer said having the duo involved is a coup for the race.

“Foremost, they are great athletes and nice guys, so it will be a pleasure to have them,” he said. “Regarding exposure, like with any event, it’s important to have continuous exposure to reach potential athletes and to keep our sponsors happy.”

Participants who complete the race are awarded a finisher’s medal.

“The Yukon Arctic Ultra is not about prizes,” Pollhammer said. “It’s the achievement and the adventure which everybody takes back home. That’s priceless.”


By MARCEL VANDER WIER
Star Sports Editor

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