Friday, March 27, 2009

Bye Bye Yellowknife

To the community of Yellowknife, I must say what a great city you have that has the heart of a small caring town. Everyone says “hello” or gives you a “nod” when you enter a restaurant or pub. How much more welcoming is that?

Thanks for the support to the racers and media throughout the week. I heard that on the race course there was free pizza and water being handed out by a local that decided to set up their own aid station.

Thanks to the downtown liquor store where I found bottles of Napa red wine I can’t find in my hometown of Toronto.

One day I will came back in the summer and really see this city at it’s fullest and catch a giant pike with Ragnar at his fishing lodge. Mind you, seeing unspoiled snow covered lakes in the winter is magic to the eyes.

The winners of the various divisions in the Rock and Ice Ultra are off today by airplane to pick up their first place prizes, EKATI diamonds from the actual mine site located 300 KM from Yellowknife.

Tonight they officially get to celebrate!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The real UBER athletes of the Rock and Ice Ultra…

I touched a bit about the logistics of this race in prior blogs but now is the time to give honor and respect to the Race Crew of the Rock and Ice Ultra.

Race Director Scott Smith has three right hands that look after the race when he is off breaking trail. Ken Brophy, Jeff Baxter and Elaine and all the other volunteers make this race happen in a supportive and safe way for all the athletes that participate.

Here’s the out of the ordinary work they all do….

Insure the trails for the day’s stage are marked and packed down to the best of their ability for the athletes.

Build aid stations and stage camps in the middle of no where in minus 20 weather

Take personal holidays to be part of this race crew.

Love the fact Yellowknife women dig them because they smell of gas when they get off their snowmobiles.

Work 13 hour days eating powder soup, tin foil dinners for 6 days straight, packing sleds every morning in minus 28 C weather and you never hear a peep of negativity.

Love the fact the athletes were slammed on day 1 of the race by at blizzard and bone chilling wind chill to show them what the true meaning of what the NWT is about and why they teach a survival course prior to race day.


This is the same race crew that will build a fire on the race course or offer their own parkas to warm up athletes on the race route, feed athletes when they have run out of food and drive at 2 KMH at 11 PM in a minus 37 C temperature lighting up the path for an athlete to find the finish line of the stage.

Perhaps the best story to summarize the organizer and crew of this race was told to me by the Race Director Scott Smith. Scott and two others were escorting the last athlete into the stage that very late evening or should I say around midnight. Scott mentions he had to stop his snowmobile and run around it to warm up even though he had heat packs plastered all over his body. The athlete stops, looks at them, speak but they can barely hear her because of the ice that had formed on her face mask to keep the bitter cold away. Once Scott had chipped away the ice he thought the athlete was going to call it quits. Instead in a very tiny voice the words “Aurora” came out and the right arm pointed skyward. The athlete wanted them to see the northern lights as they danced across the sky that clear night. They all laughed, smiled and carried on.

I hate SLOW Wireless connections because...

I can't share photos with you...

So I was going to show some very very very nasty blisters on a pair of feet, our number 1 photographer taking a close up picture of them of course! To show the previous night athlete dinner, the crazy spanish athlete and his portion sizes and how the Europeans chill after a race, count 12 plus Molson Canadian Beer Cans and one napping athlete.

Perhaps to save embarassment for the athletes, this might be the better way?


Coming into the finish!

The winner and the media circus including the runner up.

Race is over BUT blogs continue until Friday

Hi all, the 2009 Rock and Ice Ultra is over. On a sunny day with a bitterly cold wind chill the battle between RN 420 Phil Villeneuve and 419 Micheal Argue came to an end with Micheal winning the final stage by 2 minutes. At one point in this stage Phil had a 50 M lead but Micheal closed the gap once they left the hills.

In the open area, Micheal unleashed his international level sprint speed that Phil couldn't match. This by far was the most competitive division of the Rock and Ice Ultra.

More blogs will be released about the race and all it's other elements today and tomorrow.

Official race results can be found at


Day 5 Finish, start of Day 6

Hi all, a photo of the finish between the two man gladiator race of RN 420 Phil Villeneuve and 419 Micheal Argue .

The race is on as I write this to you. Phil and Micheal for the sixth day in a row assume the lead position at the start line. I did have a chance to speak to them yesterday.

Phil is suffering from swollen feet and a bit of frost bite on the left side of his face. Overall he feels strong and believes he needs an extra gear today to overcome his 32 second deficit to Micheal.

Micheal has no feet issues and is ready for the final push. He is training full time to make the Canadian National Team for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games. He is originally from Yellowknife.

Out of the two, Phil is a bit more relaxed with Micheal being focused for the task at hand.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009