Day 3 of the 2009 Rock and Ice Ultra
The challenge of the Rock and Ice Ultra is to complete one of the three available courses: the one-day 55 km ‘Cold Foot Classic’, the 3 day 135km ‘K-Rock Ultra’, or the 6 day 225Km ‘Diamond Ultra’. All distances can be completed solo or in relay teams, and either on foot/snowshoe, or x-country skis. The full race title is BHP Rock and Ice Ultra as one of its main sponsors is BHP Billiton. BHP operates the Ekati Diamond mine which lies 300km north of Yellowknife and where the 8 diamonds worth $37,000 that will be won by the top finishers of the longer courses.
Competitors – a total of 57, doubled than last year’s – have the HQ in Matrix Village, at Yellowknife Bay on Great Slave Lake, in warm tents with some nice commoditites like individual heater and microwave. Friday was the briefing day, a talk by safety and logistics experts, Arctic Response, called ‘Surviving the Rock and Ice Ultra’ were they put emphasize on safety (last year there were two cases of frostbite and one of snow blindness).
The race started at 9:00 AM on Saturday in a temperature of -25C, strong breeze and overcast skies and by 5.00PM only 18 of the 85 racers had made the camp at Powder Point. By early afternoon it was snowing and in the strong wind there were white-out conditions which forced the first withdrawals: Australian Peter Wilson had severe frostbite and Italian climber and runner Francesco Galanzino had damage on his sled.
The first on-foot Diamond Ultra racers to get to the camp – behind the skiers of course – were defending champion Greg McHale and his wife Denise, followed shortly after by Jen Segger. In the other K-Rock categories Dennis Colbourn was the first foot racer to finish and the winner of the one-day Cold Foot Classic Powder Point was Martin Parnell, a British racer who lived in Yellowknife 30 years ago and returned to visit friends and race the Rock and Ice, finishing in 7:10 hours.
After spending a relatively comfortable the night in tents, racers started day two of the competition with skies cleared out. There were some overnight drop outs but the remaining competitors kicked off day two at 9.00 AM again in -25C and fresh snow. By the end of the day the male foot category in the K-Rock race was won again by Dennis Colburn who set a fast pace and is now hours ahead of the competition. Sara Montgomery is the female leader and the McHale couple and Jen Segger are putting a great competition on the
Diamond Ultra foot race.
The six day ultra race resumed yesterday on what was the last day for the K-Rock category. The route for day 3 took them back to Matrix Camp across Yellowknife Bay but no results have been posted yet.
If you want to follow closely the race, check out the reports on sleepmonsters and also on the blogs of some of the racers: Josh Caple, Antonio De la Rosa (in Spanish) and Sergio Fernandez (in Spanish).