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Rock and Ice Ultra Marathon
17/18 mar 07

Ever heard of the Marathon des Sables? If you haven't, it's a long distance stage marathon which is held annually in the Sahara desert. Competitors challenge themselves by running marathon distances daily for 6 days in this unforgiving environment. It's one of only a few ultra events held around the world.

Now that you've got some background on this genre of sport, lets rearrange some of the Marathon des Sables details to get the newest Canadian ultra marathon incarnation. As you can clearly guess the Rock and Ice Ultra will be the polar opposite of the Marathon des Sables in terms of temperature. We're talking close to -40 versus 50 degrees Celsius but both events share the distinction of being held in a desert environment. The Rock and Ice Ultra 300 km race will start in Yellowknife , NWT. and the course will traverse kilometres of cold tundra and numerous frozen lakes. Competitors will be further challenged by having to ski or snowshoe while pulling all their gear and supplies in a pulk. The top finishers in each category will earn cold, hard Canadian Ekati diamonds for their pain and perseverance...blah, blah, blah. so much for copying someone's else material.

anyway, l was the race safety coordinator for the first 2 well as the master tracker...ensuring all racers were accounted for at each of the check points. however, the -32c temperature each morning, along with a 15 km wind directly into the faces of 100 odd competitors for the first 80 km of the race, thinned out the ranks pretty quickly.  by the time the racers had got to my station at prelude east, generally late sat evening and on into the nite, there were less than 20 racers remaining in the race.

the safety team, 'hand picked' by yours truly, were snowmobile-borne members of yk sar, as well as friends who have extensive local area knowledge, first aid training, and gsar backgrounds. the teams were involved in numerous rescues throughout the weekend and short of a couple of frostbitten racers, all participants were accounted for.   the riders put on a average of over 700 km of riding each.....hard core.  

click on a picture to see a larger image. hit arrows at either end of the slideshow for more pictures.


racers line up on frame lake. it is -32c and one of the brits is in short pants.

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