Perfect running conditions met participants of the Klondike Trail of ‘98 International Road Relay last weekend.
Rain in Skagway opened up to calm conditions past the summit and into B.C. and the Yukon. As the sun rose over the South Klondike Highway, runners continued to receive a light push from the tailwind and sun cover from the overcast skies.
Anchorage’s Broken Tooth – TNP was the last team to start and the first to finish, arriving at the finish in Rotary Peace Park in 11 hours 15 minutes and 35 seconds.
Whitehorse teams won six of 11 categories, earning wins in mixed (Running Home to Yukon Brewing), masters open (Shier Law Runners), masters women (Quantum Running Machines),walkers legs 7-10 (Slowly Heading North), youth legs 7a-10b (Buffalo Bill and the Funky Bunch) and walkers legs 7a-10b (16 Legs A’Walkin).
“I was really happy with how it went,” said Running Home to Yukon Brewing team captain David Eikelboom. “People ran more or less as expected.”
The local team had a few last-minute substitutions and while they don’t go into the race with expectations of being on the podium, the team finished fourth overall, winning their division.
Starting in the penultimate wave at 11 p.m. (Yukon time) in Skagway, Kendra Murray led them off. And the remaining legs were run by Caleb Light, Sarah Murray, Shane Carlos, Luke Carlos, Brendan Morphet, Harry Borlase, Matthias Purdon, Anett Kralisch and Eikelboom.
Starting at the same time as another local favourite, Wu-Tang Clan, the teams were close throughout the 176.5-kilometre event.
“They got ahead of us early on,” said Eikelboom. “Then we were starting to reel them in a little bit.”
With some strong runs on the later legs, the gap shrank a little bit.
Kralisch posted the top female time on Leg 9.
“I live for being cheered on. For me the entire road could be lined with people and I would run faster,” she said. “I had a good run. I would say it was kind of like a German train, completely on schedule. I arrived three seconds ahead of my
Wu-Tang Clan, captained by Colin Abbott, a seasoned cross-country ski racer who also organizes the spring cross country ski marathon, is a gathering of friends who enjoy being active together.
No one really identifies as a runner per se, said Abbott, but with a strong fitness base from other adventures, the team is able to push itself in a competition like the road relay.
The team’s name last year, Aggressive Nonchalance, is a good way of summing them up, he said.
“The attitude we have is no one really on the team trains for running full-time, but we all love to compete,” said Abbott.
“We more like to adventure.”
With strong individual performances on the team, they were able to finish third in the open division and third overall with a time of 12:29:56, a few minutes faster than last year and about five seconds off their projected time this year.
“Everyone did exactly as well as they thought they would,” he said.
With 1,750 participants, the road relay weekend is one of the biggest sporting events of the season in the Yukon.
“It’s the one weekend of the year that running in the Yukon is a big deal,” said Eikelboom. “The race is very much different things for different people.”
Some are running with the goal of completing every single leg for the Senator’s Cup, others are interested in doing the same leg every year and some are in it just for kicks with colourful costumes abound.
The Klondike Road Relay is a fundraiser for Sport Yukon. At press time today, the total figure raised was not available.