Training for the Yukon Ultra race for mountain bikers, cross country skiers and runners

Yukon Arctic Ultra

By Alpkit

The Yukon Ultra is taking place from the 6th to the 19th of Feb, for Mountain bikers, XC-skiers and Runnners. The Breakingstrain will be taking our Hunka XL bivvy bag as they run along the Yukon Quest Trail, Canada. We get to know a bit more about how they have been preparing and what they are expecting.

So guys, who are you?

Lee Peyton & Garry MacKay.

What are you planning to do? How many days, what sort of temperatures, how far?

LP: We’re taking part in the Yukon Arctic Ultra at the start of February which is touted by the organisers as ‘the world’s coldest and toughest ultra’ race in the Yukon Territory, Canada. The race-event we’ve entered is the 100 mile distance (which can actually vary between 99-115 miles depending on the state of the trail) with a maximum time allowance of 72 hours to complete the distance. We’ll be dragging all our gear in pulks (sledges to most normal folk). The average temperature for the month historically is minus 25 degrees centigrade but has been known to dip to a slightly-less-tropical minus 60.

Sounds cold, is there anything that you are particularly worrying about?

GM: What apart from the bears and wolves?

Do you think you can outrun a bear?

LP: Do I really need to as long as I can outrun Garry?
GM: Which you can’t.

How have you prepared for the extreme cold?

LP: To be honest the past two winters have provided phenomenal training conditions for heading away to the Yukon. I live near the Pentland Hills, just south of Edinburgh, and during the weeks of snow this winter there were deposits of 24 inches plus on the hill roads and temperatures which were regularly down to minus 10-15.
GM: We’ve also got some very decent gear to keep us warm and dry during the race including the Hunka XL bivvy.

What training have you been doing in the lead up to the challenge?

LP: The majority of our training has involved running as far and as much as possible. Over the past 10-12 weeks we’ve banged in on average 50 mile weeks and in recent weeks I’ve been dragging tyres on Gullane beach. This has all been fairly monotonous but is a reality for this type of event.

Murder Hill…..

Have you got any plans on how you are going to tackle the 100 miles?

GM: We’re going out there to finish in the first instance whether that’s as one of the front-runners or whether we crawl in with minutes to spare before the cut-off time, we’ll have to wait and see. We’re a bit into the unknown as we’ve never competed with pulks before but in training we’ve been pushing hard for an hour while tyre dragging and then taking a break to refuel for 3-5 minutes and then going again. At the moment we think that due to the cold these breaks will be shorter and the rest might happen whilst we’re moving but at a more leisurely pace. We’ll take longer breaks at the checkpoints we have to cross through.

enjoying the training….

Will you have an i-Pod? What’s your top choice of tune to help keep going?

LP: I’ve just downloaded the Ministry of Sound’s Running Trax.

How much kit do you need to carry/pull and what’s your expected food requirements?

LP: We need to be entirely self-sufficient during the race which includes a mandatory kit-list (including a sleeping bag rated down to minus 35 C as a minimum). Over the last few weeks our thoughts have polarised between having the right warm kit or going light and fast but to be honest it won’t be much lighter than 15 kg in the pulk and maybe 4 kg in a small race rucksack (mainly hydration pack and food).
GM: We’re expecting to burn a minimum of 5,000 calories every day whilst we’re on the trail. Despite being self-sufficient we have to go through two checkpoints over the course of the race where we’ll be provided with a meal and boiling water (this saves us the tedious task of melting snow). The remainder of the calories will be replaced with energy bars, gels and drinks, boil in the bag meals and tried and tested food bags. Lee quite often gets a hankering for Beef Monster Munch late on in a race bizarrely.

Will we be able to track you along the way?

LP: Unfortunately we’ll not be using a SPOT Tracker for this event but if folk want to send us messages of support they can by visiting our Satellite Phone provider, typing in our number 8816 5144 2223 and sending us a short message (160 characters).
The Sat Phone also receives emails via: (again messages of 160 characters or less). Depending on 3G coverage around the start line in Whitehorse we’ll also be Tweeting as we go.

What’s the plan for when you finish?

LP: Hobble. Bar. Eat. Sleep.

Have you grown beards to look gnarly in the pictures?

LP: I would have had to start growing mine when we decided to take on the race (about a year ago).

Thanks guys, we wish you all the best of luck on the race. We look forward to hearing how you get on!

Breakingstrain website
Lee’s Twitter
Garry’s Twitter

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