France’s Thierry Corbarieu wins Yukon Arctic Ultra race in northwestern Canada

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Thierry Corbarieu, from France, was the first across the 2019 Yukon Arctic Ultra finish line in Dawson City Tuesday evening. (Mark Kelly Photography)
After nine days and nearly 700 kilometres, France’s Thierry Corbarieu has won the 2019 Yukon Arctic Ultra.

Corbarieu arrived at the race’s finish line in Dawson City Tuesday at about 5:18 p.m. local time. His closest competitor, American Christof Teuscher, arrived in the early morning hours Wednesday.

Race organizer Robert Pollhammer says he hasn’t yet figured out the times for the pair, but they’re “way ahead of our deadline.”

Corbarieu was “in great shape,” coming across the line, said Pollhammer.

Thierry Corbarieu stands with his finisher medal in Dawson City. Corbarieu was the first person to finish the Yukon Arctic Ultra in 2019. (Mark Kelly Photography)

“Every year we have a couple of people who seem to function pretty well on very little sleep and still not get in trouble, and he’s one of those people. He didn’t look at all like someone who’s hardly slept and went all that way. It was pretty amazing.”

The Yukon Arctic Ultra is billed as “the world’s coldest and toughest ultra.” Competitors can choose their distance, from a standard marathon to the 690-kilometre journey between Whitehorse and Dawson City, travelling through Yukon wilderness on the same trail as the Yukon Quest sled dog race.

Hallucinations and frostbite

The race can be dangerous. Competitors left Whitehorse in –37 C temperatures, and several dropped out due to injury or technical issues. Others have reported hallucinations, in part due to isolation and lack of sleep.

Despite this, an update on the Yukon Arctic Ultra’s website says that all athletes remaining in the full-length race are “doing fine.”

Pollhammer said there have been a few cases of frostbite, but no serious injuries have been reported.

“Conditions were changing a lot, which in a way is nice,” said Pollhammer. “They’ve had a little bit of fresh snow, trails with plenty of snow, trails with not so much snow. Cold days, warm days. It was a big variation. They got the whole that the Yukon has to offer in winter.”

Pollhammer says 10 more racers are still on the trail. The expected third place finisher, Italy’s Laura Trentani, should be in Dawson City Wednesday, he said.

With files from Sandi Coleman

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Canada: 2022 Arctic Winter Games to be hosted in northern Alberta, CBC News

Finland: Younger Finns more and more attracted to winter swimming, Yle News

Norway: Swedish musher wins Finnmarksløpet, The Independent Barents Observer

United States: Iditarod adds four new board members amid criticism, Alaska Public Media

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