Registration is now open for the premiere Yukon Ski Marathon, hosted by the Whitehorse Cross Country Ski Club.

The 50 km race is being held on Sunday, March 5 and begins at Mount Lorne, runs from there to Cowley Lake, then to Wolf Creek, Mount Sima, Harvey’s Hut and finally finishes at Mount McIntyre.

For those who desire something a little less strenuous, there is also a much shorter 20 km race that runs between Mount Sima and Mount Mac. Food and first aid stations are spread out across the checkpoints along the way. The club is expecting about 100 participants, although the numbers are not capped.

The race draws its inspiration from the cross country marathons of Europe, says organizer Colin Abbott.

“It’s very common for people to ski these distances in these events in Europe. Most people in these races are citizen racers, not professionals, and will take all day to do it. Many people who don’t consider themselves athletes will do it just to say they’ve done it,” Abbott says. He adds that the longest race in Europe is 90 km, a distance which even non-professional skiers compete in a single day, sometimes taking more than 12 hours to finish.

Abbott says he expects the first people to finish the 50 km race in about three hours. If racers haven’t crossed the finish line after eight hours they can still complete the race, he says, but they won’t’ be given a finishing time.

Racers start the day at 8:30 a.m., when they are to meet at Mount Mac to take the shuttle to Mount Lorne (or Mount Sima, if doing the shorter race). The race is expected to be all finished by 5 p.m. and there will be a party held in the upstairs lounge at the Mount McIntyre Recreation Centre. There will be food, prizes, music and drinks available.

“We want people to have a good time after they finish the race… and to cheer other people on as they cross the finish line,” Abbott says.

The race gives people initiative to get outside and be active and is an opportunity to see the landscape of the Whitehorse area in a new way, says Abbott.

“The race gives people a different perspective on the Whitehorse Valley… it’s very cool to see Golden Horn Mountain in the distance and approach it slowly… there are lots of trails many skiers haven’t skied on (in this race) and this is an opportunity for people to try them. You don’t have to go very far in the Whitehorse area to have an amazing experience,” he says.

Both the 50 km and 20 km races have entry fees, which go back to into the Whitehorse Cross Country Ski Club and help pay for transportation of racers, food and renting the space for the after-party.

Registration for this event is available online at www.Zone4.ca. Registration is open until March 2.

There will be no same-day registration permitted. If it is below -25ºC on the day of the race, the race will be postponed until March 12.

For more information and a complete list of rules and scheduling, visit the Whitehorse Cross Country Ski Club website at www.XCSkiWhitehorse.ca/YSM.