Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by John Tonin

YOU’RE UP – The F.H. Team leg 7 runner Nathan Bingham, left, takes the time fob from teammate Charlie Fent at the Carcross checkpoint of the Klondike Trail of ‘98 International Road Relay on Saturday morning.

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Photo by John Tonin

TOP OF THE CLIMB – Team Speedy Soles’ final runner Simon Connell races along the Miles Canyon Road a few kilometres out from the Road Relay finish line at Rotary Peace Park on Saturday.

Teams run from Skagway to Whitehorse

There were 204 official teams for the 37th annual Klondike Trail of ‘98 International Road Relay. There were 170 teams that left from Skagway on Friday evening for Whitehorse.

By John Tonin on September 9, 2019

There were 204 official teams for the 37th annual Klondike Trail of ‘98 International Road Relay. There were 170 teams that left from Skagway on Friday evening for Whitehorse.

The Road Relay follows the trail of the Gold Rush Stampeders over the White Pass, through British Colombia and into the Yukon. The race finished Saturday at Rotary Peace Park.

Teams could have up to 10 runners over ten legs for a total distance of 175 kilometres. The relay is run on paved highway and racers travel through the night over challenging terrain and breathtaking scenery.

Weather can vary from clear, to cloudy, foggy, rainy and sometimes snowy. As far as the Carcross checkpoint this year, the sky was clear with the constellations on display. It was dark and chilly, the thermometer read zero.

The checkpoint had a fire going to keep the volunteers and support staff warm as they waited for runners to arrive.

Then the radio buzzed with word a runner would be arriving shortly.

In the distance, a headlamp could be seen bobbing up and down to the runner’s steps - the lights from the parked vehicles reflected off their vest.

Once they arrived they punched in and handed off the fob to their teammate.

The Carcross checkpoint was a busy place. Starting at 6 a.m. was the Youth race. Twenty youth teams departed from Carcoss.

It happened in a blur when they were told to leave. Young runners, all with headlamps, some with glow sticks, went enthusiastically on their way.

The energy at the checkpoint calmed down and it was back to waiting for the athletes coming in from Skagway.

Dusk turned to dawn, the sun slowly rising above the mountains. The South Klondike highway was heavy with traffic - support vehicles parked along the shoulder trying to get a glimpse of their runner.

The checkpoint after Carcross was just beyond Emerald Lake. As runners reached, their fans, excitedly met them at the checkpoint and then ran a short distance with the next member of the team to leave.

By the time the runners reached the top of Miles Canyon road, it was warm and sunny. The volunteer’s radio was alive with activity as they were informed about the arrival of runners.

It was Laura Fox, of team TNP: Dirty Skags, from Anchorage, who was the first runner up the hill nearing the lookout.

Fox opted out of the water. The finish line at Rotary Peace Park was too close.

The TNP: Dirty Skags, a mixed team of nine, were the first team to arrive at the finish line. Setting a blistering pace of 11:11:50.

The final leg was 12.10-kilometres.

“It was pretty,” said Fox. “It was nice to be running on road that wasn’t the highway. There were a couple giant hills which were pretty rough.”

Fox said it was nerve-wracking to be the final runner.

“It was a little bit of pressure,” said Fox. “There was another team behind us and we didn’t know how far behind us they were. We knew the person they had on their last leg was faster than me, so they were going to be gaining on us so it was kind of a trade.

“I didn’t look back. I just pretended they weren’t right behind me.”

Fox had competed on legs eight and nine before but it was her first time doing the final leg.

Her teammate Daniel Serventi, a first-timer to the Road Relay, did the penultimate leg which was 11 kilometres.

“I absolutely loved getting to come out and do this and getting to compete with these guys,” said Serventi.

Serventi said it was beneficial to have the youth teams out in front of him.

“It helped having moving targets to run down and visually cue off of,” said Serventi. “It helps because I started to drag around mile eight, it was getting nasty there.”

His strategy, in running leg nine, was to set up Fox in the best position to bring it home for the team.

“I was trying to gap her, hang even with the people from Skinny Raven,” said Serventi. “I was trying to set up Laura, give her the best gap possible, not give up any time and I think I managed to do that pretty well.”

Having been his first race, Serventi said he has built some lofty expectations for the 2020 run.

“Next year now I’ll have to beat my new record I guess, it is the only way I can top it,” said Serventi.

As the runners passed under the Robert Campbell Bridge fans gathered along the fenced off trail to cheer them on as they reached the end line.

MP Larry Bagnell gave out high-fives as they passed. Kate White and John Streicker emceed.

The Youth category was won by the Speedy Soles, a team from Whitehorse. The team of eight had a combined time of 5:27:36.

Myles Terry was the runner to leave Carcross and he said he wanted to put his team in the best position but didn’t feel he did it.

“No, he did it,” interrupted his teammates.

Isacc Maddocks ran the second leg for his team.

“It was my first time doing the race and it was super fun,” said Maddocks. “I didn’t do much training and I thought it would be rough but it wasn’t too bad.”

He said he was “super-hyped” but kind of nervous when Terry passed him the fob.

Felix Masson ran the third leg for the team and said while he was waiting for Maddocks to arrive he was just full of anticipation and ready to run.

Benjamin Qually didn’t know he would be running the race until the Tuesday before.

“I was really excited,” said Qually.

When it was time for Finn Gallant to run the Speedy Soles had a small lead.

“I was pretty anxious to get running,” said Gallant. “The other team was doing very well at that point.”

Jonah McConnell took over from Gallant.

“I was thinking I need to make a gap or else it’s going to be pretty hard to win,” said McConnell.

He said it felt good to grow the lead for the team.

Daniel Phillips-Freedman said his leg had a lot of hills but that he still managed to grow the lead.

“There was a minute gap but I grew it to about five,” said Phillips-Freedman.

Simon Connell closed the race for the Speedy Soles.

“There was a little bit of pressure,” said Connell. “I just kept calm and tried to get to the finish as fast as I could.”

The team was waiting for Connell at the finish line and he said it was such a cool feeling when he saw them there.

It was a Yukon sweep for the top three podium spots in the Youth category. The Excel-erators! came second in 5:37:07. The Cirque Du Sore Legs was third in 5:50:07.

The second overall team to finish the Road Relay after TNP: Dirty Skags was Whitehorse squad #teamraven, who competed in the Corporate category. Their final time was 11:36:40, after a five-minute penalty.

Open category team, Longest Game of Tag Ever, from Juneau, had the third-best overall time of 13:07:34.

As more and more teams were anticipated at Rotary Peace Park the festive atmosphere continued to grow. The team members who had already finished hung over the railing waiting to cheer and props their final team member.

The youth teams joy at watching their final member reach the finish was wonderful to watch.

Most, if not all, would greet their last leg runner under the tent and swarm them.

Other winners from each category:

The Women’s class was won by The Chilkooters from Anchorage.

Masters Open went to Whitehorse team Running from the Law who were dressed as jailbirds.

Masters Women was won by Whitehorse’s Winterlooooong!.

The Classics from Anchorage were the victors of the Masters Mixed class.

Speed Walkers (7-10 legs) Chocolate Claim Walkers from Whitehorse set the fastest pace in their category.

There was only one Ultra runner who ran legs 7-10. Brendan Morphet from Whitehorse ran the legs in 5:32:04.

Speed Walkers (7a-10b) went to All Girls and a Guy from Whitehorse.

Last but not least, Aged to Perfection 2019, from Whitehorse, won the Golden Masters category.

Comments (1)

Up 5 Down 1

Stephie Peters on Sep 10, 2019 at 9:15 am

I found this race and the participants so awesome, I would love to try it someday, but I am 63 years old, and not sure if I would be to old to give it a try

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