Yukon Arctic Ultra: Toughest Race on Earth?

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Men’s Journal has a short, but interesting article on the Yukon Arctic Ultra, a 430-mile long race that begins in the town Whitehorse, in the Yukon Territory of Canada and proceeds through some of the toughest, most remote backcountry, anywhere on the planet, in the dead of winter.

The 2009 YAU is set to get underway this coming Sunday, Feb. 15th. The race actually has multiple courses, coming in 100, 300, and the 430 mile variety. Racers can elect to try multiple disciplines as well, with mountain biking, cross country skiing, and on foot all allowed. The longer course is only run every other year, and makes its return in 2009. The racers will face 20,000 feet of elevation gain, although it is the harsh winter conditions that are generally the biggest obstacle. As Men’s Journal notes, back in 2007 the ultra had to be stopped when the temperature reached a staggering -76º F!

The video below, also courtesy of Men’s Journal, shows racers starting the race. It’s short, but gives you some idea of how these endurance athletes must dress and travel, many pulling sleds behind them, in order to competing in this grueling even.

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