Frostbite 50

aka Terminal Burrowing in Yellowknife

The Frostbite 50 is a 50k ski or run put on every March by the Yellowknife Multisport Club. Runners and skiers can go solo or in relay teams of up to 5, racing across about 30km of ungroomed lake crossings joined by 20km of portage routes.  In the 7 years the event has been held, temperatures have ranged from -5 to -35C.  Not a lot of people with a 50k snowshoe experience so I thought I’d share my journey.

(The event was born of the defunct Rock and Ice Ultra multiday race that saw winners receive a $10,000 diamond courtesy of BHP Billiton’s Ekati Diamond Mine.  Alas, no more.)

This winter has been all about training for the Frostbite. (First day of spring as I write this – time for a new training season :)).

Monday– spin and stretch

Tuesday – night runs would often consist of a 7-8k run in the snowy hills of Kenna Cartwright Park in Kamloops with the Dirty Feet Run Crew led by Grace and Phil Hiom, followed by another 8-10 with my golden retriever Shakes and a loaded backpack.

Embed dirty feet pic.   Embed Shakes pic?

Wednesday– hills or speed with Kamloops Running Room

Thursday– easy 5-10k road

Friday – Total Body Blast – me and a roomful of women doing lunges, squats, core work and calisthenics that would leave me sore for 3 days every time

Weekends – ran 3 Dirty Feet 10k snowshoe races,
or long snowshoe session on Sun Peaks trails (10-25km)
-and/or Sunday morning long road (13 to 24kms)

My biggest week saw about 75km of road and snow.
January and February saw about 165km and 200km respectively
My longest weekend was a 25km snowshoe Saturday with a 24km road run the next day, 3 weeks from race day.
Unfortunately (or fortunately?), this left me with a strained left Achilles so I tapered right off for the 3 months of March leading into race day.

Embed Running Room pic?

We were blessed with a cold winter this year with several night runs at -20 so my gear got well tested for the expected Yellowknife conditions.

Dion Snowshoes – Been running in these for 3 years now and love them. Barely have to adjust my stride and hardly notice they’re there except for the odd time I crack one off the opposite ankle bone. Switched the secure-fit bindings out for the Velcro easy bindings since I figured there’d be lots of off and ons of the shoes in Yellowknife. (I was wrong but the bindings were great anyways.)

Asics Gel Fuji-Trabuco GTX shoes – Old, worn out, not especially light, I just found myself always falling back to these reliable, spacy, warm shoes for my snowshoe runs. I tried the Salomon XA Enduros with their built-in gaiters but felt like my feet and my Achilles were working against their stiffness. Hoka Challenger ATR2s seemed stacked pretty high for snowshoeing. For 42km I didn’t even think about my feet so these shoes were a great choice. The last 8km there was some noticeable bruising on the top of my feet near the tongue of the shoes but this may have been from the MEC run gaiters or the snowshoe straps too.

MEC run gaiters – Broke one of the cardinal rules of racing and tried these for the first time on race day. Didn’t notice them and didn’t notice any more or less snow than a full winter without them so I guess that’s a pass? I didn’t once have to re-tie my shoes though so maybe that’s a hidden plus of wrapping gaiters around them?

Paradoxical undressing / Terminal burrowing


Barnhartvale lady who won the Yukon Arctic Ultra


Travel / Pre-race






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