Caribou Legs to meet with premier

Caribou Legs has a big meeting scheduled with Premier Darrell Pasloski on Monday. The Gwich’in ultra runner arrived in Whitehorse Tuesday after running all the way from his hometown of Inuvik, N.W.T.

Caribou Legs has a big meeting scheduled with Premier Darrell Pasloski on Monday.

The Gwich’in ultra runner, whose real name is Brad Firth, arrived in Whitehorse Tuesday after running all the way from his hometown of Inuvik, N.W.T.

Firth ran as part of a campaign to urge the Yukon government to protect the Peel watershed.

In January the government opened up 71 per cent of the region to new mineral staking. Two of the involved First Nations have since filed a lawsuit in Yukon Supreme Court over that decision.

Firth has brought letters for Pasloski from the people of the Mackenzie Delta in N.W.T.

He said in an interview Thursday that he has been promised 15 minutes of face time with the premier on Monday.

“I’m just going to let him know that what he did was the wrong the decision and I hope he goes out there and fixes it. I think he betrayed many, many people, and I just want to let him know how I feel.

“I couldn’t have picked a better cause. The Peel watershed is an important issue and I’m just grateful to serve it and to use my running gift in a good way.”

The run from Inuvik took almost four weeks, and it certainly had its challenges.

Firth almost got stuck in a blizzard on the Dempster Highway just north of Eagle Plains.

The conditions finally got the best of him and he jumped in his support truck to drive the rest of the way.

It was in the nick of time. The blizzard was so bad that, just after they arrived at Eagle Plains, the road was closed behind them.

“It was challenging. I wasn’t expecting those kinds of conditions on the Dempster. But I absorbed everything that the Dempster gave me, I ate it all up.”

Firth treats running like a job, he said.

“It’s just like work. It’s the same thing. You’ve got to get out there every day and pound the pavement.”

But the toughest part may have been the final leg, the last 75 kilometres from Fox Lake into Whitehorse, said Firth.

“I knew the finish line was down there, and I just had no energy left in the tank.”

He was increasingly being distracted by people stopping him the road to cheer him on, he said, and kept losing focus.

But he made it, with a little help from his friends.

Joseph and Danny Kaye, two brothers from Inuvik, got a surprise on Tuesday when they were pulled out of class and onto a plane so they could finish the run with Caribou Legs.

They had started the run with him, and someone in Inuvik thought it was important that they finish together, too, said Firth.

Air North held up the plane so that the boys would make it.

“They were really excited, and they didn’t know what was going on. They just knew that they were going to meet up with me on the highway at the end there.”

The boys met up with Firth about 20 kilometres out of town, and ran with him the rest of the way.

“They sure pulled me through, and they carried me the last 20 kilometres when I had no energy.”

When he arrived at the totem pole at the bottom of Main Street, there were about 100 people waiting for him, he said.

“It’s just another day, just another goal accomplished.”

Yukoners can celebrate Caribou Legs’ arrival with him tonight at a feast and dance beginning at 6 p.m. at the Kwanlin Dun Potlatch House. Admission is by donation, with proceeds going to Firth’s campaign for the Peel.

There will also be a rally in front of the Yukon Legislative Assembly on Monday. Yukoners are invited to join Caribou Legs at the Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre at 11:45 a.m. and walk or run to the legislature for the rally, which begins at noon.

At the end of the month Firth will fly to Vancouver and begin the next leg of his journey. He hopes to run all the way back to the Yukon and end up back in Inuvik. That run is also in support of the Peel.

“I really look forward to coming back and running through on the next leg of this running series,” said Firth. “I love the Yukon, I wish I could live here. Whitehorse rocks.”

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

jronson@yukon-news.com

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