© Callum Jolliffe
This week the 300-mile Montane Yukon Arctic Ultra is nearing its 8-day cut-off point. Come tomorrow, the few racers who haven’t scratched will have been on the go for 7 days, and Canadian ultrarunner Jessie Gladish knows just what they’re experiencing. Jessie has completed the 300-miler once and is a three-time finisher of the 430-mile distance which runs every other year – last year becoming the first woman to finish it on cross-country skis. It took her almost 12 days.
Set in the frozen, snowy Yukon wilderness in Canada, the race is utterly brutal with temperatures sometimes reaching -50c. Competitors are self-sufficient and the clock never stops as they pull their gear, food, survival kit, bivvy and water behind them in a heavy pulk, sleeping by the trail in bitterly cold temperatures. Days are relentless and dark for up to 14 hours. Frostbite is a real danger. Fascinated by this race, I put some questions to Jessie, who has also completed the 300-mile Iditarod winter ultra in Alaska, on what draws her to the ‘world’s coldest and toughest ultra’.