Just a few steps into the race, Whitehorse’s Nathyn Sutton was out in front and that’s where he stayed.
The 12-year-old became the youngest person to finish first at the fifth annual Run Wild at the Yukon Wildlife Preserve on Monday.
Sutton completed the five-kilometre course in 24 minutes and 25 seconds.
“It’s my new record, that’s for sure,” said Sutton. “I was really pushing it there.
“I kept my breath very steady to maintain my speed. If I went too fast my breath would have got too heavy and I wouldn’t have been able to run that fast. It has to be right in the middle, not too heavy and not too softly.”
It was Sutton’s first time in the event. He might have to go back to see some of the animals at a slower pace sometime.
“It was amazing. It was very beautiful,” said Sutton. “I was hoping a moose would be right up at the (fence), but I guess not.”
Sutton wasn’t the only youngster tearing up the course. Seven-year-old Noal Bradford placed second overall at 26:11, five seconds ahead of his dad Tyler Bradford.
Victoria, B.C.’s Roisin Lyder made her first trip to the preserve a memorable one. The 27-year-old, who is working in Whitehorse this summer, was the fastest female (and fourth overall) with a time of 27:21.
“I’m just in Whitehorse for the summer, so it’s my first and probably last time. It was super fun,” said Lyder.
“I’ve never run a race before where I was going by muskoxen and moose and various wild animals. That was a treat. Once I’m rested a bit I may wonder around a little bit and check out the animals.”
Jim Enns was fifth over the line at 28:01. Ashley Franks, another youngster at just 15, was second for females at 29:12. Samantha Moore (31:54), Aurora Mackinnon (32:24) and Peggy Dorosz (36:08) rounded out the top five for females.
A total of 83 runners and walkers — more than twice as many as last year — took part in the event, raising $1,446 for the preserve.
“All the money raised today will go towards continuing to care for injured and orphaned animals that come to the wildlife preserve,” said Lindsay Caskenette, the preserve’s manager of visitor services. “This is the only rehabilitation centre in the Yukon, so we get all sorts of animals — anything as small as a squirrel to a bear.
“We do our best to rehabilitate them and release them into the wild.”
That’s exactly what happened before the start of the race. Last year two orphaned redhead ducklings were released before the start of the race. This year three red squirrels were set free at the start line.
“It worked out really well because there were lots of strands of trees and grass cover they, as they did, go and hide in,” said Caskenette.
“They were abandoned juveniles, so they needed assistance to get the food that their mother would have been providing but was nowhere to be found. So they were brought here to the wildlife preserve and we were feeding them and they were ready to go.”
Contact Tom Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org