My Yukon AdventureThis week, I bought a plane ticket to Whitehouse, the remote capital of Canada’s Yukon Territory. Next February 3rd, I plan to run a marathon that begins in Whitehorse and continues on the frozen Yukon River through the austerely beautiful, pine forested, and yes frightfully chilly, sub-Arctic environment.
If this sounds like a Herculean feat, let me point out that I will be candy ass in this race. The sissy. The short hitter. The 99-pound weakling. The pantywaist. Along with the marathon, the Yukon Artic Ultra also offers distances of 100 miles, 300 miles and a boggling 430 miles. Far crustier souls than me will test their metal in those portions of what is billed as “the world's coldest and toughest ultra.”
Those words brook no hyperbole. Ultra participants, bundled like Inuit seal hunters and harnessed to sleds packed with survival gear, will follow a dog sled trail, braving hypothermia and frostbite, “overflows,” drifting snow, physical exhaustion and mental disorientation (as well as the occasional marauding moose) to, in some cases, reach the distant hamlet of Dawson, a mere snowball throw from the Arctic Circle. Nighttime temperatures, the organizers sternly warn, could plunge to 50 degrees below zero Fahrenheit, so be sure to bring your woolen mittens. Those attempting the 430 mile course have 13 days to complete their merriment.
As I expect to finish the marathon course in a matter of five or six hours, I’ll be back in Whitehorse, soothing my weary muscles in a hot tub, a pint of Yukon Ale in one hand, a slab of polar bear jerky in other, while my erstwhile mates are spending their first bleary-eyed night scrambling through the forlorn and icy wilderness. I’ll be the Jimmy Olsen to their Clark Kent.
Applications for all distances are still being accepted. But hurry. Entry fees go up on August 31st.