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March 2023

Gällivare Kommun official MLAU partner

A race like the Montane Lapland Arctic Ultra needs the support of a lot of people, companies, places and institutions. Municipalities are one such institution. We start and finish with our race in Överkalix which is part of the Överkalix Kommun. However, a large part of our race also takes us into neighbouring Gällivare Kommun. Close to 18,000 people live there. Gällivare is a busy town 100 km north of the Arctic Circle and it that has a lot to offer. Needless to say, it is surrounded by beautiful nature, too.

We are very proud that this great municipality likes what we are doing and helps us in many ways to make the MLAU happen.

Thank you Gällivare kommun!

Final race report MLAU 2023

Copyright: Swedish Lapland

March 5th, 2023 we started the 2nd edition of the Montane Lapland Arctic Ultra. After last year’s race I was wondering if I should change some of the rules regarding mandatory kit as temperatures only went down to about -15 degrees Celsius. I am glad I did not because this time the weather in Swedish Lapland threw everything at us it has to offer. We got temperatures down to – 35 degrees Celsius, plenty of sunshine and towards the end, even a snow storm.

Our athletes had a wonderful time in Jockfall in the days leading up to the start – where, once again, our hosts Robin, Ann-Sofi and Hans took great care of us. Then we all went down to our start line right at the Grand Arctic Resort and had our countdown at 09:35 am.

Copyright: Swedish Lapland

Recent snowfall made for slightly softer trails than we had hoped for but all athletes made good progress anyway. Getting up to our beautiful Laxforsberget checkpoint was the first main obstacle for all. “It’s not a mountain. It’s more a big hill”, is what I told everyone in the briefing. And it’s the truth! However, after a long day on fairly soft trails and with a heavy load, that hill can be really tough. Everybody made it up in good spirits and of course seeing the stars and the northern lights from this higher elevation is a thing that’s hard to forget. Unfortunately, the tougher trail conditions were too much for Mike Kraft’s knee and he was not able to continue further. Since they are a team and because his wife Maren also was not feeling 100%, she quit, too. Of course they were sad not to be able to see more of the race but Mike and Maren were really positive about the entire experience and happy to have tried it.

Arrival at Laxforsberget Checkpoint, Copyright: Swedish Lapland

Cristiana Peretto from Italy got quite a bit further but also had to scratch before reaching Jockfall checkpoint. It was her first non-stop race in a cold environment like this and she had a hard time keeping up with her team partner Sergio. All others – both 185 and 500 km athletes – were able to continue, reaching Jockfall and then Polar Circle Cabin #1 checkpoint. Here UK athlete Ben Clayton-Jolly had to call it a day – for the same reason as Mike Kraft. Ben’s knee was hurting too much and pushing too hard with a bad knee is never a good idea. So, Ben, who had already finished the 185 km in 2022, made the right decision not to risk further damage.

Sergio Minoggio (Italy) was our first finisher in the 185 km distance. Rank 2 went to Alexander Davydov (Germany) and rank 3 was won by Alla Bova (USA), who just a few weeks before also finished the Montane Yukon Arctic Ultra 100 mile race in Canada. Up next was Ruth Newton (UK), our only athlete on skis. Yes, to all Swedes, you heard right … the “only” athlete on skis! Ruth did really well and even though the trails are not always easy for ski athletes, she enjoyed the experience. The last athlete in this distance to reach the Överkalix finish line was Thomas Werner (Germany) who did the race with his two dogs, Ernie and Loki. Last winter Thomas already was with us and he could not finish. So, it was great to see him achieve his goal this time. Congratulations to all!

185 km race winner Sergio Minoggio, Copyright: Callum Jolliffe

Stefan Zahlten kept pushing hard all the way to the finish. Sometimes pushing hard can be very risky. Especially, when nights remain very cold and a fast pace and lack of sleep finally take their toll. However, in German’s case, it worked out. The gap had created between himself and Paul, remained. Thus, Stefan took first place overall and in the foot division. Roughly 9 hours after him, Paul Watkins also reached the finish line, placing 2nd.

Stefan Zahlten (Germany), winner 500 km race, Copyright: Swedish Lapland

Thanks to their speed, both of them avoided some really bad weather that hit us on the late afternoon of the 13th. Karl and Harriet were also kind of lucky because they arrived in Rikti-Dokkas Checkpoint as the heavy winds and snowfall started. And they wanted to have a good rest there anyway. For Maximo who was already on his final stretch to Överkalix and for James who was further behind, things would be more challenging. Both of them had a hard time finding the trail between markers and whenever they would step off it, they would be stuck in very deep snow. Maximo reported he even stepped into a hole of snow where here really struggled to get out. Our snowmobile guides Daniel Cedering and Robin Landin went out to help make the trails visible again. That made it a lot better for Maximo, James and eventually also Karl and Harriet. All of them were able to continue. Yes, snow was still soft – as it takes time for newly groomed trails to be solid – but at least they were not stuck. I would just like to emphasize that such over night trail breaking may not take place in every future MLAU and in all circumstances. When crew is not too tired, it’s not too dangerous and the logistics allow for it, grooming can be done at night. But most times it is more likely that athletes who are face with trails that disappear over night, will have to bivy until trail breaking can take place hopefully the next morning.

Maximo finished third and was of course very happy to reach Överkalix. Karl and Harriet came next and their finish was extra special because as they walked across the finish line, we saw the start of some really nice northern lights. James saw the same spectacle in the sky about 30 km further back. His plan was to not sleep and keep a steady pace to make it just in time. However, the fresh snow and wind drifts made that impossible for him. We kept in touch over night just to make sure he was safe and in the morning James decided to withdraw because it would have taken him until early afternoon to cover the remaining distance. Obviously, it’s frustrating to have to quit so close to the end but James told me that he really enjoyed the entire journey and that he got this far.

Thank you to all athletes who joined us this year. The entire MLAU team congratulates you!

Thank you to all crew members: Diane and Lucy from HQ in the UK, all volunteers who were involved in Sweden: Sam, Pat, Jonny, Alastair, Ali, Sarah, Alex, Amy, Callum, Madeline, Zoe and Hakan. Thank you to our guides Daniel, Henrik, Robin, Roland, Arnold, Niclas and Micael. Thank you to our wonderful checkpoints and checkpoint hosts at Jockfall, Grand Arctic Resort Överkalix, Lansjärv, Leipojärvi and Nattavaara. Thank you to all our sponsors and partners, our title sponsor Montane, Kahtoola, SOTO, Jockfall, Överkalix Kommun, Gällivare Kommun, Swedish Lapland, Heart of Lapland, Fjällcom, Sveaskog, Peter Mild Design, Acapulka, ICA, Reko, Cumulus and Racelite. Thank you Rimfrost Adventures for hosting our official training course. Thank you to our media guests Alexander Davydov (FAZ), Ted Logart (Swedish Lapland/Photography) and Jonne Tiili (The Unlazy Way).

Thank you to all the region’s snowmobile clubs for the hard work putting in and maintaining the trails that allow us and many others to have fun out there!

Last but not least, thank you Sweden for being such a great country to visit and thank you all those who have followed the MLAU 2023. We can’t wait to be back!

Stefan Zahlten first athlete on foot

Stefan Zahlten from Germany is the first athlete on foot to reach the MLAU finish line in Överkalix. Because of problems with his feet, last year Stefan attempted the 500 km race with a bike. After quite a few mechanical issues he had to admit defeat. So, it was really great to see him do so well this time in his preferred discipline. Even though he gave himself very little time to rest, he was strong all the way.

Not too far behind him we saw Paul Watkins from Australia arrive and taking 2nd rank on foot. Like Stefan, Paul looked very good all the way through.

Third place in the foot category went to Spaniard Maximo who, like all other remaining athletes, got caught in some pretty nasty weather. Snowfall and winds quickly deteriorated trail conditions. Our guides went out late at night to make the trails visible again and to check on how they all were doing. Maximo pushed through and arrived, exhausted but of course very happy at the Grand Arctic Resort finish line.

Next up were couple Karl and Harriet Shields. There finish was amazing because pretty much the instant they arrived, we got the most amazing northern lights. They were very happy and of course tired but overall really fine.

At this point in time, for James Mowbray, it was a race against the clock. James had been going slow but steady and would have almost certainly finished in time. However, the soft snow meant he had to use snowshoes and not being used to that, it slowed him down too much. We followed his tracker the last night and communicated with him as he worked hard all night to make progress. When it became obvious that he would miss the cut-off by several hours, in the morning, we meet him on the trail and gave him a ride back. Obviously, it’s never nice to DNF so close to the finish line but James was positive about it and focused on everything he really enjoyed over the last 10 days – which was a lot.

Congratulations to you all!

I will write my final race report tomorrow. If you have not discovered it for yourselves already, there is a ton of content about this year’s MLAU on our facebook and instagram pages – with many amazing videos and photos by our social media expert, Callum Jolliffe and Swedish Lapland filmer and photographer Ted Logart.

Sergio Minoggio from Italy wins 185 km race

Copyright: Swedish Lapland

Sergio Minoggio from Italy reached our finish line at the Grand Arctic Resort in Överkalix at 18:29 yesterday. That means it took him 56 hours and 54 minutes to win the 185 km distance of the Montane Lapland Arctic Ultra 2023. Congratulations!

We are currently waiting for Alla Bova (USA) and Alexander Davydov (Germany) who will be our next finishers. Alexander’s inReach has not updated in quite a while. So, it’s impossible to know where exactly he is but we expect him either with or slightly in front of Alla.

Alvaro, our leading athlete in the 500 km race has been struggling on his way to Lansjaerv last night. Wind and fresh snow made for a tough trail. Our crew groomed in front of him and had to battle snowdrifts of up to 50 cm. That helped Alvaro but as you can imagine the trail was still very soft in those places when he had to push through. He got to Lansjaerv at 22:39 and was very tired. My crew reported that he also has got some mechanical problems with his bike he needs to try and fix before he heads out again.

Back in Överkalix more 500 km athletes have arrived and Stefan Zahlten already left again late last night. Hopefully, the trail for him will have settled again for him over night. Maximo (Spain) arrived not long after Stefan and he has got a nasty blister on one of his heels. Also, he is complaining about a sore eye. Our medical team recommended that he should see an optometrist before he continues. So, that’s something we need to organize this morning.

Paul Watkins (Australia) is about to head out from our checkpoint at the Villa in Överkalix. He is going strong and no reports on any major issues.

All other athletes are on the move or resting and no reports on bigger problems from our Polar Circle Cabin 1 Checkpoint when they came through. We hope to welcome them all in Överkalix today – either as finishers of the 185 km or on their way through to the next checkpoint in the 500 km distance.

The crew from Polar Circle Cabin 1 will come out to Jockfall today and then, after a well deserved shower, move to one of the checkpoints on loop #2, that will take us north into Gällivare Kommun.


Documentary about Katy Parrott’s MLAU 2022 adventure

Copyright: Follow The Sun Photography

Montane ambassador Katy Parrott came to participate in the MLAU 2022 last winter. It was her first big race after a pretty complicated knee injury. So, not only did she participate in her first Arctic Ultra but she also had to find out if her knee would be up for the challenge. This short documentary will show you how things played out for her. At the same time you all get of course a good look at the kind of nature we are in up here – also during our current MLAU 2023. Enjoy!

Wind, snow and a fast race

Copyright: Callum Jolliffe

The Montane Lapland Arctic Ultra 2023 started at the Grand Arctic Hotel in Överkalix at 09:35 this morning. The night before was windy and there was more fresh snow than we had expected. So, the trails on the surface were softer than before. Still, the athletes have made very good progress.

Stefan Zahlten (Germany) and Maximo Martin Escribano (Spain) are in the lead in the foot category of the 500 km race at the moment. The first 185 km athlete is German Alexander Davydov. He pushed hard and had a good day.

Unfortunately, we just had the news that Mike and Maren Kraft scratched at Laxforsberget. Nothing serious but they decided not to continue. Robin Landin is currently bringing them back to Jockfall.

All others are going strong.

The crew at Laxforsberget is waiting for a few more athletes and hopefully around midnight all will have been through our first checkpoint.

At Jockfall, Callum is working on editing today’s photos and he will soon make some posts on our facebook and instagram pages. Our medical team here is resting and will be ready for arrivals.

Our crew at Polar Cabin #1 is ready, too.

Some athletes have started to settle down for the night, too. The first ones being Karl and Harriet Shields.

Temperatures tonight should not go much below -15 degrees Celsius. Tomorrow it could get a bit colder and it definitely will cool off further in the days after. That’s perfect for the athletes because trails will remain solid and they can gradually get used to the freezing temps.

MLAU 2023 starts March 5th

Not much longer now! The first athletes to arrive in beautiful Jockfall were the participants of the training course powered by Rimfrost Adventures. During 4 days they were taught important lessons on important aspects such as layer management, building a woodfire, using equipment such as stoves, how best to set up camp and the list goes on. It was great to see the enthusiasm by everyone involved and feedback has been absolutely amazing again!

In the meantime, other athletes have arrived and still are arriving. The same goes for the volunteer crew who get busier each day now with the many things that need to be taken care of during the last couple of days before the start.

Also, many members of the regional snowmobile clubs and our crew have been busy grooming and marking the trails. This work is actually a process that has been going on for weeks now. A big thank you to all who have been part of this enormous effort!

The inReaches from Fjällcom Satellite SOS and will be distributed to the athletes tomorrow. Thanks to this great service, from March 5th, we will all be able to follow the athlete’s progress along the trail via a map that is embedded on our MLAU landing page.

Please also check out our Instagram and Facebook pages over the next couple of weeks. We will post many updates and great photos there.

Start of the Montane Lapland Arctic Ultra 2023 will be March 5th 9:30 am at the Grand Arctic Hotel in Överkalix and we hope many locals will join us when we count down from 10 and cheer our athletes on when they head north on loop #1.

If the weather forecast will remain unchanged, it will be a cold one this year – with temperatures reaching – 30 degrees Celsius. Needless to say that this will add to the challenge. But before we get into race mode we still have a couple more days in Jockfall, getting everything ready and admiring the amazing Northern Lights which have been out almost every night.