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The Montane Yukon Arctic Ultra calls itself “the world’s coldest and toughest ultra.”

Courtesy of Montane Yukon Arctic Ultra

The event, which features distances ranging from a marathon to a 430-miler (692K), begins in Whitehorse and follows the long-established course of the Yukon Quest trail, a 1,000-mile dog sled race between Whitehorse and Fairbanks, Alaska. 

Every February, hundreds of competitors line-up at the start in the harsh, cold conditions of northern Canada. The race cites the freezing temperatures, the challenging terrain, and the sheer long distances of the race as contributing factors for the Montane Yukon Arctic Ultra to be considered the world’s toughest.

Courtesy of Montane Yukon Arctic Ultra

A lengthy preparation is required prior to the race, and during the event, the risks are high. For those who actually complete their distance, there is no glamorous finish line, no fanfare. There is no prize money for the winners. 

Which makes us ask the questions: who are the competitors that sign up for the world’s coldest and toughest ultra and what is their motivation?

On this week’s episode of The Shakeout, we take you to the Montane Yukon Arctic Ultra. This year’s race begins on February 1. We speak with the race director Robert Pollhammer, the lead medic Diane Patrick, and several competitors to uncover the allure of such an extreme challenge. 

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