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Yukon Arctic Ultramarathon

Yukon Territory - Feb. 2008

The Yukon Arctic Ultramarathon is one of the toughest foot races in the world. The competitors fall into three categories: Those that run a regular 26 mile marathon, those that run a 100 mile ultramarathon and the real hardcore runners who run a 320 mile race. This year, due to the temperature extremes of -40C and colder, the race had to be diverted and re-routed to keep the runners as safe as possible. It was so cold that the snowmobiles that were acting as safety vehicles were failing. I've been told that this year's event was the coldest marathon ever run, including the ones that have been run at the north & south poles!

To make things even tougher, the ultra runners tow all their own equipment and food behind them in a sled and they sleep outside if they need to rest during the race (Which takes about a week for the 320 mile version). At least half of the runners drop out, mostly due to frostbite.

All this and there is no prize money.

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The runners get ready for the start of the race.

At the start line. I had the honour of giving them the official countdown.

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Runners heading north on the Yukon river from Whitehorse.

Two very cold racers approaching our very inviting campfire.