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Montane Yukon Arctic Ultra concludes after seeing worst conditions ever recorded

The Montane Yukon Arctic Ultra (MYAU), the world’s coldest ultra, has concluded, in what was the most extreme conditions the race has seen in its history.

Unprecedented levels of snowfall in the lead up to the race, in what was branded the snowiest December since 1980, presented plenty of additional challenges for participants to navigate over the duration of the event.

The race, based in Yukon, northwest Canada, is made up of up to 430 miles of snow and ice, with temperatures dropping to as low as -40 degrees celsius, in one of the coldest and most remote environments on the planet.

The event features races of four different lengths: a marathon, 100 miles, 300 miles, and 430 miles, with races able to be completed either via foot, mountain bike, or XC-Ski. Each route goes in the same direction, being marked by wooden sticks, and are non-stop in nature.

The 430-mile event saw Lorrie Lech claim first place on foot, recording a time of 7 days, 1 hour, 35 minutes, just two minutes ahead of Peter Mild in second place. Jessie Gladish was the only contestant who successfully completed the course on mountain bike, with a time of 8 days, 10 hours, 48 minutes. 

The 300-mile event was solely competed on foot, and saw Dirk Heller claim first place, with a time of 7 days, 5 hours, 12 minutes, over 15 hours ahead of Josh Tebeau in second place.

The 100-mile event was also competed solely on foot, and saw Chad Barber emerge victorious, recording a time of 1 day, 2 hours, 15 minutes. Montane athlete, Becks Ferry, crossed the line in third place, and first female, with a time of 1 day, 10 hours, 35 minutes.

Speaking on the event, Montane athlete, Becks Ferry, commented: “The Montane Yukon Arctic Ultra is no ordinary race. It is so much more than just a race, being predominantly a lesson in the art of survival. Extreme temperatures, pulling a sled, and transporting your own kit, add extra layers of complexity to an already long race. It is quite easily one of the hardest things I have ever taken on, both physically mentally, and I needed to utilise my entire arsenal of skills to get to the end in one piece. However, it was also one of the most uniquely friendly and supportive events I’ve been involved in, with the other participants being more like compatriots than competitors, such was the collective sense of support. It is genuinely the toughest ultra-race around, and definitely one of the best.”

The race is the sister event of the recently introduced Montane Lapland Arctic Ultra (MLAU), with the course following the route of the 1000-mile Yukon Quest Dog Race, an annual dog sled race which has been running since 1984.

Race organiser, Robert Pollhammer, said: “MYAU 2023 was amazing, seeing a higher percentage of finishers than ever before, with the 300-mile and 430-mile races in particular seeing some excellent race strategies with a very good balance of moving and resting times. We met many great people and were part of great stories, so it has been a real pleasure. A big thank you to all athletes, crew and sponsors who made this race possible.”

Montane’s Global Marketing Manager, Matthew Hickman, said: “The MYAU is an arctic ultra that pushes racers to their limits in one of the coldest and most remote environments on the planet, being widely renowned as the world’s coldest ultra-race. As an event it perfectly captures Montane’s ethos, testing participants’ resolve both physically and mentally in hugely challenging and extreme conditions, to overcome, succeed, and break new boundaries.”

The event first took place in 2004, with just the 100-mile and 300-mile events on offer initially, although a lack of internet connectivity due to the remote location provided issues. As internet became available, additional technology has helped enhance the race experience, causing an increase in popularity and resulting in the addition of the marathon and 430-mile events.

More information on the results can be found here:

More information on the Montane Yukon Arctic Ultra can be found here:

Header image: Montane athlete, Becks Ferry, competing in the Montane Yukon Arctic Ultra.

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