Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by John Tonin

MAKING LIGHT WORK OF IT – Amber Moffat, Justine Maynard and Coralie Ullyett, leftright, cruise down the Millenium Trail as they complete their 2020 Klondike Road Relay virtual race distance on Saturday.

Virtual Klondike Road Relay a success

When it was announced April 30 that the Klondike Road Relay (KRR) would be cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, organizers did not rest on their laurels. Instead, they got to work organizing a virtual race.

By Whitehorse Star on September 16, 2020

When it was announced April 30 that the Klondike Road Relay (KRR) would be cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, organizers did not rest on their laurels. Instead, they got to work organizing a virtual race.

If the world was not in the midst of a pandemic, the Klondike Road Relay, which begins in Skagway and finishes at Rotary Peace Park would have ended Saturday.

Instead, entrants into the virtual KRR had just shy of a month, from August 15 - Sept. 12 to complete their chosen distance. Participants were then encouraged to submit their times.

In 2019, the KRR had 170 teams depart Skagway toward Whitehorse. Race coordinator Sandra Soares said there was a great turnout, even if not all those who registered submitted their final time. Even some global runners got in on the action.

“We had 448 people register with 103 submitting their results,” said Soares. “I’m sure more than that participated but may have just forgotten to upload their results before the event closed. It did indeed go global which was really neat to see; one territory, three provinces, 16 states, one from France, one from Great Britain and one from South Africa.”

During the pandemic, many organizations have turned to virtual events. Soares told the Star when registration opened that this has made her be more creative in the KRR’s delivery.

Now that the race-month is complete, Soares said she believes they did a good job of grabbing people’s attention.

“I think we did a good job of capturing our target audience of past road relayers who just wanted to keep with the spirit of KRR in whatever way they could,” said Soares. “A team in Sitka (Alaska) even created their own 110-mile relay that they completed with a team of 10 on what would have been the event day this year, while others here ran their own route as a team and finished at Rotary Park.”

One of the changes the KRR saw when it went virtual was the introduction of a six-week training program. Soares said this is a feature the race will look to keep heading forward.

“Overall participants enjoy the challenge of the training plan and plan to use it as a tool for future events as well,” said Soares.

To keep everyone engaged, despite being virtual, runners were encouraged to post photos or videos of themselves completing their distances to social media using the hashtag #virtualkrr2020.

Soares said the pictures came in slowly but they eventually flooded in. She hopes that energy will be brought to the 2021 race.

“At first we weren’t seeing too much being posted but last weekend we ended up getting a bunch of pics and messages from participants,” said Soares. “All around, I think people were just happy to get out and have some fun with it. Lots of us were missing the official race environment but we have high hopes to get back at it for 2021.”

The KRR is Sport Yukon’s largest fundraiser, generating around $60,000 for the organization. Soares said they didn’t have a fundraising target in mind but were happy with the results.

“We weren’t really sure going into this event what kind of interest it would get so didn’t set any specific fundraising goals,” said Soares.

“We hoped to at least break even which we definitely did and more.

”We are able to use those funds to put into improvements for future events which is really exciting. Some things we have been hoping to improve on is a new timing system and registration site. We hope to start working on those things this fall.”

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