Joel Juht’s polar marathon starts today!

On Friday ultra runner Joel Juht gave his last interview on the TV show “Ringvaade” before starting the world’s toughest ultra marathon today, on the 3rd of February – Yukon Arctic Ultra 2019 in North-Canada.

Survival training prepared athletes for the race

“It’s not going to be pretty. This race is far from running,” says Juht on his interview on the 1st of February. Survival training for Yukon Arctic Ultra athletes gave a realistic overview about the worst-case scenarios and how to handle life threatening situations. Juht said that fluctuation of temperature makes the race even more difficult – one day it’s -17 degrees and it could be -42 the next day.

Regardless of the difficulties, the only estonian athlete entering the Yukon Arctic Ultra polar marathon is feeling positive, excited and ready for action. “I was stressed and scared prior to the survival training, thinking whether or not I will be able to handle this at all, but during the training I began to realize that there are enough solutions for every situation. If you feel cold, you can start a fire, put more clothes on, keep warm in your sleeping bag and then continue your journey. I even got special cotton pads that I can use for a quick fire starter,” Joel Juht explains.

100 km in one day

The most important fact to remember is that the athlete can’t sweat more than normally, cause racers must keep their bodies from getting wet. “If you sweat, the water will turn into ice, humidity will stay between your clothes and sleeping bag and that may be the end of the race for you,” Juht explains. It is vital to know how to use your handwear properly.The special cookware we use is made from metal and touching it without handwear in the -35 degree cold, guarantees an instant frostbite,” Joel Juht adds. He explained that in each checkpoint the Race Crew will determine whether or not the athlete is too exhausted, too sweaty, out of food supplies or are the clothes dry. “If something doesn’t add up or is missing, you will get a 5-hour penalty,” he adds.

Joel’s goal is to finish the marathon as fast as possible. “The plan is to go through 96 kilometers in the first day and then sleep. I’m feeling good right now, so I might even run over 100 km in the first 14 hours. Cold doesn’t scare me,” says Juht with confidence. He added that he will get a clear vision once the race has started. “Of course I will try to run at first, average speed could be around 9 minutes per kilometer. I also need to consider that packing, unpacking and food preparation takes up to 1 hour per day,” Joel explains. He explained that obstacles on the road makes the race even more difficult. “One of the most dangerous places are the ones where at first it seems to be ice, but there are water beneath and you might fall through,” says Joel.

The biggest threats are hallucinations and frostbites

Every contestant needs to have a special plan and strategy for finishing the marathon because these conditions will have different effects on everyone. “I get to decide when and how much I will sleep but I will see how much I will feel like sleeping in this cold. My gear and equipment are very good, I am not worried about that. You need to stay alert during the race and react quickly in every situation,” says Joel. The biggest worries for Juht are frostbites and also hallucinations. “If you run 100 km in a row and the road is straight ahead with just trees in sight, you might start seeing things that in reality are not there. I have never experienced hallucinations so I don’t know what to expect,” says Joel. He added that it is crucial to plan your journey for each day, react quickly and keep your eyes open.

The main goal for Joel is to make it back in one piece. He feels happy that he decided to compete in Yukon Arctic Ultra polar marathon. He has already learned a lot and met interesting people during his trip. Today is all about athletes are getting ready, packing their equipment and thinking their strategies.

You can follow the racers HERE, number 416 is Joel Juht. Start will be 10:30 a.m. Yukon time, which is 20:30 p.m. estonian time.

Watch the full interview on “Ringvaade” with Joel Juht HERE!

Best of luck!