Road relay to feature international content
The biggest running event of the year will take this place this weekend,
The biggest running event of the year will take this place this weekend, retracing the century-old gold rush route from Skagway to Whitehorse.
The Klondike Trail of ‘98 International Road Relay commemorates the 1898 Gold Rush stampede to the Yukon and is known for its challenging terrain, picturesque scenery and party atmosphere once all 10 stages are run.
The 31st annual race starts tomorrow in Skagway with the slower teams taking off first. The 176.5-km route finishes along the Yukon River on Saturday in Whitehorse.
The Yukon team ‘Scarecrow’ is on the hunt for a fourth straight victory, finishing last year with a time of 11:29:43.
The Juneau ‘B’ Team from Auke Bay, Alaska continues to hold on to the race record of 10:16:28, set in 1990.
Competitors run all night. Stages range from a distance of about nine kilometres to about 26 kilometres, with the first two climbing from sea level to about 1,004 metres before descending.
Weather can range from “beautiful starlit nights with displays of northern lights to cloudy, foggy, rainy, and sometimes snowy conditions,” according to the race guide.
Team members take turns running different legs of the relay race.
Teams that run the race instead of walking can have up to 10 members, one for each stage of the race.
Nearly 150 teams are scheduled to compete, including 75 from Alaska and 68 from the Yukon, said Sport Yukon spokesperson Kevin Patterson. Three teams from B.C. and one from the
Northwest Territories will also participate.
Sport Yukon co-ordinates the event. Last year, the non-profit organization raised $20,000 through the race, and they are hoping to increase that total this time around. The money raised is used to enhance sporting opportunities for all Yukoners.
“The race is Sport Yukon’s annual major fund-raiser for the year,” Patterson told the Star. “It’s very significant in terms of our outreach within the community. We have a lot of volunteers who are helping volunteer their time.”
Last year, 1,330 runners took part in the anniversary race.
A record 161 teams were registered for the 1998 race marking the centennial of the Klondike Gold Rush, according to Sport Yukon.
The unique race has attracted international athletes and recreational runners since its inception.
For instance, Juneau doctor Rob Haight will run his eighth Klondike this year. The 45-year-old said he’s run consistently every year since 2007 and has a goal of completing all legs.
His team, comprised of a core group of runners and a few new ones each year, isn’t competitive – “We hear, more than see, the fast guys, like the Skinny Ravens, shoot past us in the darkness,” he said by email, referring to another team.
But he enjoys the camaraderie and sees the race as a good excuse to hang out with his brother, Glenn, a teammate who, despite living in the same town, he doesn’t get to see very often.
“Riding in the support vehicle through the night and into the wee hours of Saturday, boosting a comrade, getting ready for your own two-odd hours of pain, and recovering thereafter, are equally memorable,” Haight said. “The time hanging with teammates and other teams’ mates in Whitehorse after the race is a hoot.”
Juneau P.E. teacher Kelly McCormick, 41, said of all the races she’s run, the Klondike is most fun because of the friendships made with other runners.
Her all-women’s team, the Twisted Blistered Sisters, was formed with the intent of bringing on new runners and exposing them to the race. After this year, she will have run each of the 10 legs.
McCormick said running at night has been the most unique part of the race. Seeing the sunrise coming into Carcross was a moving experience.
– With files from Becky Bohrer, The Associated Press