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Jovica Spajic wins 2024 Yukon Arctic Ultra 300-mile race

Outpacing the few remaining competitors who haven’t withdrawn, Serbian ultra runner wins
Yukon Arctic Ultra racers leave Shipyards Park on Feb. 4. The race entered its fifth day with a few determined 300-mile racers grinding it out on the course on Feb. 9. (Jim Elliot/Yukon News)

Other than a few determined racers still grinding towards the finish line for its 300-mile race, the 2024 Yukon Arctic Ultra is over.

So far there has been one finisher in the 300-mile race: Jovica Spajic of Serbia who led the foot race from the very start. He reached Pelly Crossing the evening of Feb. 7. After a brief rest he began the race’s penultimate leg by starting an overnight march to Pelly Farm where he arrived at around 7 a.m. the next morning. The race tracker shows him back in motion a few hours later, beginning to retrace his steps to the Pelly Crossing finish line, which he crossed the evening of Feb. 8.

As Spajic was finishing, Americans Daniel Benhammou and John Nakel were in Pelly Crossing ready to begin the leg of the race out to Pelly Farm and back. At press time, they were in motion and within a few kilometres of each other.

Also still on the course, in Carmacks, as of the News’ deadline, was Alan Purdue from Wales.

“It was a cold first night. As a consequence, some athletes did run into problems with frostbite. Not to a degree where they will lose toes or fingers but bad enough to have to withdraw,” read a Feb. 9 update posted to the Ultra’s website by organizer Robert Pollhammer.

The update states that there were additional scratches that night. Ultimately, 11 athletes would finish the 100-miler ending in Braeburn while four would scratch.

Pollhammer’s update says the race team received three SOS messages in quick succession.

“All of them we were able to attend quickly. In two cases things turned out to be not as severe as expected. However, for one of the athletes, Alex de Sain from the Netherlands, it was important to get him to a hospital quickly. Alex got surgery and is now recovering from it. The entire MYAU team wishes him a quick and full recovery,” the update reads.

With other scratches due to trouble with knees, ankles, hips, hearts and more, 12 of the 300-mile racers had to withdraw by noon on Feb. 8 and two more still on the course had to end their races due to falling behind time cutoffs.

Also detailed in the update is how the decision was made to shuttle 300-mile racers from Carmacks to McCabe Creek by car to get around an area of the Yukon River with open water. Use of an improvised trail was considered but Pollhammer states the race went with the car shuttle in the interest of safety.

Note: A story published earlier this week had Alex DeSain marked as a finisher based on incorrect information from the race’s tracking system.

Contact Jim Elliot at

Jim Elliot

About the Author: Jim Elliot

I’m a B.C. transplant here in Whitehorse at The News telling stories about the Yukon's people, environment, and culture.
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