Posts Tagged ‘Yukon Quest’
It finally got underway this morning with an on-time start of 11am. Snow was trucked in for the street start which was moved from the river last minute for safety reasons.. What an exercise! And the efficiency and organisation of this race is just incredible.
Once the mushers left by noon we hopped off and edited a few shots and then drove to Pleasant Valley Stores in Two Rivers – Such great names! – and we are now at the checkpoint editing, writing and uploading more stuff… You can find us on my Facebook, The Yukon Quest Official Facebook or probably just about anywhere to do with dogs on the internet.. Just search or hash tag search #yq2014
Here is a small gallery of shots from our arrival in Fairbanks.
I find myself back in the Yukon having said I would probably miss this year. Its now the 5th year I’ve ventured and more and more the North seems to suck me back into the wilderness and beauty that it exudes.
The team this year is myself, Tom Barber and Heidi McGuire. Tom has been with me the last three trips I’ve made and Heidi I met in 2009 on the YAU. I can’t imagine better people to work with and combined with the OTC team and Yukon Quest team, I am really looking forward to the next two weeks of trail, fun, tiredness and usual battles to get the job done.
Already the curveballs have started and the main one has been the weather. The heaviest snow the Yukon has seen for years has all but been discarded by the spring like temperatures of the last week or so. The roads are near clear and the trail is very different. But this does not hold the Quest back. In fact it probably enhances it. Teams will have to be at their best to win this year. Now that the temperatures have fallen again, there will be ice, and possibly overflow. All great stuff for the thinking musher!
Its these conditions or changing conditions that make this such a great race. Like some of the desert stuff I cover, it can be very unpredictable, very demanding and a great challenge. If it were the same each year, how easy that would be to calculate? How boring would it be to follow? The North will always have its say whatever.
We drive up to Fairbanks tomorrow and a few nights of functions before the action start and then we set off back to Whitehorse. We will be posting videos and images along the route and your participation is vital. Comments, posts, opinions (not to strong of course) and questions on Facebook and Twitter.
Give us your thoughts on who you want to win, or if you don’t mind.. Our stories will be unique as they always are as the trail will, Im sure, give us plenty to talk about. Can Hugh Neff do it again or will Allen Moore pip him to the post. Or will we have a new winner this year? Will Normand be the darling of the race? Or will that go back to Brent Sass again.. Is it Brent’s year to hold that trophy?
Well, by the 10th Feb we should know the answers to those questions so here’s to the Yukon Quest 2014. Im toasting with a glass of red in the High Country Inn, Whitehorse!
See you on the trail
Over the last 5 or 6 years I have seen huge waves of change in the running world. Just 15 years ago the challenge was a city marathon, New York, London, Dublin or one of the many around the world. The mega challenge was the UTMB or the Marathon des Sables.. Then popped up a few more copies of the MDS format like the four deserts, Jungle Marathon and a few others that came and went or still fumble by. And when you had completed one of these the next challenge seemed to be a 600km non stop or one of the Poles. Or even Everest.
But now the landscape has changed so massively that those big challenges have become or are becoming the new norm and the professionalisation of some of the ultra world races in terms of competitors and sponsors is just so great to witness. No longer is the MDS the ultimate or the UTMB the toughest out there. They are certainly tough but with 2300 runners competing this years event and the MDS reaching 1200 and rising to 1500 runners in 2015, these are more catering to the masses on a tour basis. Everest is about booking your trip and being guided up by an expert. The MDS is 1500 runners shipped by bus to the desert, fed, wined and dined for three days, run and shipped back for some R&R in a hotel. 2300 in the UTMB is certainly a good money spinner! City Marathons at over 30,000 runners. Although its good to see so many people active, these events are not cheap with Everest at 50k average, stage races like the 4 deserts and MDS at around 4k per runner. All very good business for the races but really cater to very few who can afford or jump on the charity wagon.
However, during my cycling hours through the streets of london, I see people running these equivalents in a week or so on their way to work. People cycling 20, 30km or more a day just for commuting. How things have changed!
I have watched my FB newsfeed with interest this summer. In particular the events covered by iRunFar and Ian Corless at Talk Ultra. I have seen a new breed of tough race and some of the toughest races out there being run by real competitors. Races that have good sponsorship behind them, tough competitors and professional runners. But the top are truly in a league of their own. Marathons have become their training runs, stage races their warm ups or ignored altogether as not worth it. And now mountain trails, non stop 100 mile races and more extreme races are the new challenge. Some runners are completing these running sub 3 hours marathon times. A truly different level. Races like the lakeland100 in UK are now seen as much harder to run. I cover the Yukon Quest which is truly a man challenge not to be ignored. There are cycling challenges everywhere and the growing number of city dwellers now running or cycling to work is growing so fast that city councils do not know how to manage the change. Or how to make money form them yet!
This does not detract from the toughness of a desert race. Heat is a killer. Or the challenge of the humidity of a jungle race and freezing cold of the arctic. But it does make some of these races more the norm.
So what does this tell us? For me I see it as all positive. More races means more competition which in turn leads to better and safer races. It leads to more choice, more destinations. It weeds out the poor races or those that maybe unsafe. But more importantly it also means the creative can be more adventurous and dream up something that is so different that we are presented with a new “MDS” for the next 25 years. And I truly believe this will happen. There will be another mysterious, man challenging event that emerges. A race that entices because so few have done it. A race that people can run and really feel they have done something that the masses have not. Something I felt when I first heard about the MDS back in the 80′s…
I really look forward to the next few years to see what arises. What I might be involved in media wise. What I might even find I want to challenge myself with.
The Quest finally got underway today and it was warmer than any year I have attended… Out car read 1 degree on the way to Braeburn.
Here are a few photos and I will blog post stories as they emerge.. For today it was just important to get the first images out. We are now at Braeburn editing, posting and creating our first short video for the race….. The first mushers are due in around 11pm so it could be a long night… Posts coming…
I just came down my stairs this morning full of thoughts about the last year, people I had met and places I had been to.. I wrote to the closest person in my life all these fleeting thoughts to share them… And then I thought I would share a few here…
I have been so lucky for so long even if not always realising it. But one thing I hold dear is the the world we live and the people who make up that world.. In all my travels these last years I have met the most fantastic people in so many parts of the world. This morning I woke to an email form Friends in Yellowstone, a text from the top of Jebel Shams in Oman, a reply about a project in Kampala from a great friend in the US, a message from Madrid where a friend is realising her business dreams and last night I spent time on the phone to AK to sort some of my next project detail with a guy who really has become a great friend too….. Scott.
The last year has seen so many good projects happen but more important are the many relationships I have built along the way.. From the Yukon to the Sahara, Kuwait and Madrid to Cairo and Oman. I met up with my old friend of 28 years ago, Bob Brinker and his wife with a surprise party in Munich.. And I travelled back to another party in Paris of someone very special too…
The above video is just a snap shot of the year we have had making short films.. I have coached a few people around the world too and its been so good to watch their success along the way.. All with so much hard work attached and not always an easy road..
2013 will be another year of coaching and filming projects.. Some carrying on from 2012, some new. But this time next year you will see a different showreel. One that will see our first full length productions come to fruition. One that looks into the lives of some very special people in this world…
I would like to wish everyone who reads my blog, everyone I know or have come into contact with, a great Christmas and a beautiful 2013 and I would like to thank everyone who has worked these projects with me, put up with my grumpy 50 year old bits and given me huge smiles.. In order of projects, Tom, Ariel, Scott, Emily, Rob, Romain, Maite, Brett, Tracey, Becky, Angela, Chloe, Tez, Ines, Teresa, Alfonso, Jaime, All those at Street Child in Seirra Leone and to everyone who has allowed us to film, employed us, been a part of those projects or just simply bumped into us annoying everyone with GoPro’s and DSLR’s… And of course my daughter Emily for letting me be me!
A few more vids are here https://vimeo.com/user11352453
I left Whitehorse two weeks back after spending three weeks following the Yukon Quest. Now I sit in a cafe working through images, planning for my next adventure, planning for the new business SuitCase Media & Productions. Well, not necessarily new but the growth of my business and who I actually am.
But this part of the world, North America, has really stolen a piece of my heart. The land, the skies and the people.. I fell in love with Alaska and the Yukon.
I have tried to put my finger on what it is as I have travelled to some pretty great places over the last 30 years. I have seen most of the world and many cultures… I have fallen in love with many places but on a different level. It’s almost like I was at home when following the Quest.
I love the way people live. Purchasing things that were necessary not as here in the malls where you can buy a gazillion things you don’t need. Clothes to fill your already full wardrobe, covers for your phone for which some people must have a separate wardrobe too, another pair of shoes for Wednesdays! All rubbish, all fashion but not necessary.
What I noticed in Alaska and Yukon was that everyone had a truck because they needed one. Needed it to carry the wood for the fire. A beautiful fire but a necessary one. Many have a skidoo for the same. They need it for their livelihood to to get about. Shops in the main street sell goods that are necessary and in Whitehorse the exceptions were goods for tourists which provides and income for the residents.
But more than this too there is a cosmopolitan feel to Whitehorse. People from around the world and all ages. A good youth culture and a feeling of modernity without brash flashiness. As I walked the streets during my last days it was beginning to warm up and I wanted to stay behind to witness Spring. To see the rivers break. I imagined getting back to Dawson to see the ice bridge break up and the hills come alive with the sun. And see the carnival atmosphere of the towns when Spring finally takes hold.
I did not stay, though, and am now in UK and off to Paris tomorrow. Then Barcelona on Tuesday. Both beautiful places that many people dream to visit so I am grateful for everything I have and everywhere I have been, and the piece of my heart I left in North America will still be there when I return. I hope that will be soon and I have many people I would like to meet up with again.
A final note is “good luck” to Lance,, Brent, Kristy and Hugh Neff in the Iditarod.. I don’t think I left anyone out.
Images of Dawson and our time in the City….
We are now into our last day in Dawson City and I find myself not wanting to move on. Its a beautiful town at the base of Midnight Dome on the Yukon river. This time of year the river is frozen over and bridges to the community on the other bank but come spring the bridge disappears and only with a long drive can you get you to the other side… The town is made up of traditional western style buildings and walking the streets brings back memories of series like The Virginian and High Chaparelle. Its the most gorgeous city and not one to spend only a few days in.
Our hotel, the El Dorado is typical with a large bar, simple dining and pool tables at the back. There is also the Downtown and for eating the best lace in town must be the Drunken Goat whee the food is just perfect.
Its now -20 degrees and in a few months the river will flow again, the paddle steamer will fill with tourists and the hills will be a lush green with hikers and walkers roaming the paths.. I want to come back and see the spectacle of the river breaking and spring taking hold but know I won’t have time this year. Perhaps next.
Now my mind is back on the Yukon Quest and getting our images out for the organisation and the videos made to help promote the race. A race that is now well and truly in my blood.
The relatively little known Yukon Quest is one of the most powerful events I have witnessed.
I am here in the Yukon, Dawson City to be precise, and have travelled from Kuwait to London then Fairbanks to get here… Our (photography team) remit? to cover the Yukon Quest providing top notch images and GoPro video of the competitors……
I have been sucked in to this race already and cannot believe the performance of the mushers.. Tough, focussed, and basically the hardest human beings I have met.
They set off from Fairbanks on a 1000 mile quest to reach Whitehorse sledding with their teams throughout the beautiful but hostile wilderness of the Alaskan and Yukon Arctic. There are checkpoints and food along the way but many of them elect to sleep out, care for their dogs and keep moving rather than succumb to the warmth of a cabin for a few hours… With temperatures usually below -20c and often to -40c or colder this is an unbelievable race to witness.
I am now in Dawson City the half way point and where the teams must break for 36 hours before the final leg to Whitehorse. We are currently GoProing up the city, the start line and anything that moves.. Our first production can be seen on the previous post so check that awesome piece of work edited by Tom Barber…. Images above…. and on my Facebook and the Yukon Quest Facebook….