This time 10years ago I was feeling extremely anxious about getting ready to head off to the Yukon for the first time. I had found myself with time to take from work but with out a plan of what to do; at the suggestion of Amanda, I contacted Robert to see if he could use a volunteer for the Yukon Arctic Ultra... after much pacing backwards and forwards and thinking, 'I can't' then, 'but why can't I, whats stopping me' - I settled on, 'I can and I will' and I booked flights to Whitehorse, Yukon territory, Canada. Having never done anything like this before and never having seen an ultra-race before, I was totally amazed and inspired by the place, the people and the racers. On my return home, I decided to take up running and see if what the racers out there told me was true – ‘you could do this if you really wanted to and committed to it’. As it turns out it was true – my first ultra-race was the YAU, I have been back 6 times and completed the 100mile and 300mile events and met so many amazing people along the way, including, of course, my partner Mike. I have no doubt that we will go back to the Yukon, and the YAU, though this year we will be watching from afar as we prepare for the challenge of the Iditarod Trail Invitational in Alaska.
Good luck to everyone out there – organisers, volunteers and competitors, I’ll be watching those dots progressing on the trail on my computer screen
Following the Rov150 in February, I took part in the Four Inns as usual in March with regular team mate Edwina and a new addition to the team, who we didn’t know, but who had been found through a friend of Edwina’s, this meant that once again we were able to enter an all-female team. The 42mile race over Blackhill, Bleaklow, Kinder Scout, Chapel Gate, Whitehall, Shooters Clough etc went well, I suffered from my usual bout of nausea over Bleaklow, starting to recover on reaching the Snake Pass and feeling revived and ready to go again by Edale. In the end, we again won the trophy for the fastest all female team – thanks mostly to navigation through clagg on Bleaklow and the lack of all female teams entered!
As September approached I realised that I needed to be picking up the training in preparation for the ITI 350 in February 2017. I was concerned with my level of fitness and so I decided to look for an event which would give me an opportunity to test myself without too much pressure. On that basis I opted to put in an entry for Equinox24 in the solo category – the idea is for solo runners to run as many laps of the 10 kilometre course as they can in 24hours. I set myself a goal – to complete a minimum of 5 laps and if possible complete 10 laps, though this seemed like a lot to expect as a kick off for my ITI training. As it happened on the day, despite a few laps in the night with repeated vomiting, I had completed my 10 laps (100km) in 14 hours. I had a lie down and contemplated doing a few more laps in before the Midday cut-off. I had a walk round the site, chhered some of the runners on the course, and decided that having hit my target, and knowing that I had to pack up my tent and camping gear and drive home, the sensible option was to stop there – I was feeling comfortable, no injuries and my goal achieved.
And so, with a bit of confidence gained, the training and preparation for the ITI 350 began…
Marianne Heading discovered winter endurance racing in 2007, while working as a volunteer for the Yukon Arctic Ultra. This experience inspired her to take up running and go back to the Yukon as a competitor. Since 2007 she has been back to the YAU multiple times, completing both the 100 and 300mile races, in 2011 she became the first European female to complete the 300mile YAU and in 2019 won the 300mile MYUA. Events are not a very regular feature, but other races include the Semi-Raid Reunion, Roveaneimi150, ITI350, Karwendelmarsch and closer to home the Four Inns, the Druids Challenge, Equinox24, run to the castle, Hardmoors55. Being outdoors and enjoying the countryside and wildlife are a higher priority than being fast... luckily! Training runs and walks are often prolonged by a break to watch wildlife and take in the surroundings!