The Yukon Arctic Ultra; and we`re off.
Chris Hughes on one of our pre-race training sessions.
So after a lot (and I mean a lot) of packing food and gear we are at this stage on the trail. We have 430 miles to travel from Whitehorse to Dawson which will take us no more than 13 days as this is the cut-off point!
We have had quite a few briefing sessions from very experienced Yukoners who talk about the trail from Whitehorse to Pelly Farm/Crossing which is the end of the 300 mile race. They then take a deep breath, smile and simply state that anyone travelling to Dawson is something special. It is harder to do the last 130 miles than the previous 300 and they wished us the best of luck. It was said with genuine respect but left me trembling like a frightened rabbit transfixed by the oncoming headlights yet powerless to change my position. Each briefing fills me full of yet more fear which has been generally followed by some time on the trail which gives me back my confidence.
Needless to say, this race will take me beyond anything I have ever done but when I get to Dawson, I will be a different person. Better for the journey. Stronger for the effort. Happier for the achievement. But all of that is a long, long way from where I am now.
My strategy is simple. Keep walking! Every hour I will take a 5 minute break for food and water. Every 6 hours I will stop and cook a meal (freeze dried cuisine!). At around 14-16 hours I will pitch my tent and get maybe 8 hours rest but probably at best 6 hours sleep. The next day it will all start again. Up in the dark, walk through what little day light we get, pitch my tent in the dark at the end of the day. There are checkpoints every 35 miles or so but beyond Pelly they are 65 miles apart or 2 days. We carry more food than the average grizzly eats in a month I reckon and it weighs a lot. My pulk when full of 5-6 days of food and 4 litres of water is well over 30kg and dragging that little lot to Dawson will take every ounce of freeze dried food I can chew; as well as the nuts, biltong, cheese, chewy bars, chocolate etc. I will surely eat more than 100,000 calories and burn the whole damn lot off.
So we`re off and if you want to see how far I`ve got, when I stop, when I sleep etc. then our trusty SPOT device will be updating our every move. The tracking link for me is: http://trackleaders.com/yukonultra13i.php?name=Peter_Gold