Nearly 5000 miles of snow and ice in a MINI Cooper – This is Annette Murano on the ice road

Temperatures ranging from -40 to -70 degrees Fahrenheit, nearly 5000 miles of snowed-over roads, 230 of which are ice roads, a MINI Cooper and a series of comfortable accommodations along the way will be the only guaranteed constants in Annette Murano’s life for the next nine days.

Annette is departing today from Seattle and heading north, way north—to the Arctic. She left her home in Branford on Tuesday and flew to meet her travel-buddy Bob who’s been making his way across the country in the gear-packed MINI Cooper. By now she’s found Bob and the rest of the Alcan5000 Winter Rally racers. Today they’ll embark on a journey that will take them to Tuktoyaktuk, a town north of the Arctic Circle on the shore of the Arctic Ocean, and back down to Anchorage, Alaska. They will travel a total of 4490 miles.

“You have to have a certain mindset [for this kind of trip]” Annette said, “it takes a certain group of people that are willing to, a) even do these trips and b) be willing to accept that maybe it’s not gonna work out the way that you planned it and be ok with that.”

Annette has been planning this adventure for about a year, she said: “There is a lot you have to think about, a lot of planning that goes into this.”

Plans must be made for the car and herself in order to face the conditions of the Arctic, Annette said. Everything from preparing the car mechanically, to having the right winter gear to stay comfortable must be covered, even anticipating the unexpected.

The race is as much fun as it is technical. It is a “competitive adventure” according to the website, a “level playing field  where private and factory teams compete on even terms. Over 90% of the route is scenic touring [and] scoring is, in short, ‘regularity’ sections with equal penalty for early or late arrival.”

On day 6 they plan to make 715 miles; they will drive on the frozen Mackenzie River and Arctic Ocean.

“You have to foresee a lot of things,” said Annette, particularly regarding unexpected emergencies. “You have to bring stuff you might not even use, but you better have it with you because God forbid something does happen, you’re gonna want it there.” Annette is taking a personal locator beacon that she’s hoping not to use. But if she did were to use it, at the push of a button, the locator sends a distress signal to get help on the way. “I can live with that,” she said.

A lot of research went into the kind of gear she’s taking with her. She’s down jackets, serious mittens, a series of layering pieces, a compressible pillow, and the list goes on and on. Here is the full list.

You can track Annette’s route here and the Google map of it is here

Check out her blog and stay posted, because she’ll be back and will share with us how it went.

Good luck Annette Murano!! We wish you save travels and happy motoring (as she puts it) and adventuring!!


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