Yukon Arctic Ultra : The race of all extremes

692 km pulling a sled in the cold of the Canadian Yukon. This is the XXL program proposed by the Yukon Arctic Ultra, an ultra-marathon that can be completed by bike, cross-country ski or on foot.

From February 4 to 17, they will still be about thirty to participate in the Yukon Arctic Ultra. This event is simply one of the most difficult in the world in terms of ultra-marathon. In France, it remains little known, especially because the French athletes are rather rare to line up on this event. However, it is a Frenchman who won in 2019 and brought a little more light on this Yukon Arctic Ultra, nearly 700 km long.

Winner of the 430 miles to the program traced in the north of Canada between Whitehorse and Dawson City, Thierry Corbarieu took nine days to arrive at the end of this incredible journey. On foot, by pulling a sled able to assure him a complete autonomy and which weighs 25 kg at the beginning. Each day, he pulled it for 15 to 20 hours, sleeping on average only one hour and a half each day. Enough to allow him to complete the event faster than some participants on a bicycle (the Yukon Arctic Ultra can be done on foot, mountain bike or cross-country ski).

"It is a cold race where no detail must be overlooked at the risk of your life" he explained after his victory in Widermag. "It is really out of category, you need a total commitment or go on the shorter formats ... The main difficulties are the cold of course with a departure at -34 ° and nights at 40 ° under the tent. The sleep is the predominant factor with the impressive energy output. The distance is also very long and the checkpoints far away. You have to be able to manage yourself without the organization. I spent 20 hours at the end without seeing anyone, you have to be ready there too.

If Thierry Corbarieu realized the Yukon Arctic Ultra on foot, it is also possible to make it in ski touring or in mountain bike, always on the same course of 700 km which follows the one of the Yukon Quest (a race of sled dogs of 1 648 kilometers through the big Canadian north and Alaska). Conceived in 2003, the event also offers shorter distances of 100 and 300 miles as well as a marathon. The extreme temperatures can reach -40 degrees. Conditions that are particularly difficult to manage and that sometimes have big consequences, like the 2018 edition where the Italian Roberto Zanta had lost his two feet and nine of his fingers because of the cold. However, nothing that will make the participants of the 2023 edition, whose departure will be given on February 4, 2023 at 10:30 am.

Copyright photos : Mark Kelly