Plenty of interest in Yukon Arctic Ultra race despite last year's injuries
85 athletes sign up for race despite runner losing feet and hands to frostbite last year
International headlines about frostbite and amputations haven't kept people away from the Yukon Arctic Ultra.
Last year's race saw frigid temperatures and one Italian athlete lost two feet and both hands to severe frostbite after wandering alone for hours.
A British man had three of his toes amputated, two months after they were irreparably injured by severe frostbite during the race.
Founder and organizer Robert Pollhammer said candidates have been calling from across Canada as well as England, Germany, the U.S. and some new nations this year like Slovenia and Romania.
This is not some joke or funny adventure. This is serious business.- Robert Pollhammer, founder of Yukon Arctic Ultra
Pollhammer said 85 people have registered so far.
The turnout isn't a record but it doesn't seem to have dipped after last year's misfortunes.
The Yukon Arctic Ultra is a long-distance race where athletes can choose to compete by mountain bike, cross-country ski or foot.
Routes can range between 160 kilometres to a gruelling 690 kilometres.
New screening measure in place this year
Pollhammer said candidates are being screened this year.
For the first time, each caller is now interviewed by phone. During this process, Pollhammer said he discusses the risks.
"I am literally telling people they can die out there," he said. "This is not some joke or funny adventure. This is serious business when it gets that cold."
Pollhammer said the race organizers will make it as safe as possible but that "there is no 100 per cent safety."
But he said he's confident the athletes will sufficiently prepare.
One small change this year is that the Yukon Arctic Ultra will provide batteries for GPS locators. Some runners had used the wrong type of batteries in the past making tracking more difficult.
Pollhammer said it's too early to tell what conditions will be when the race kicks off on Feb. 3 on the same trail used by mushers in the Yukon Quest.