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Anchorage's Skinny Raven makes triumphant return to Klondike road relay

They finished the 175-kilometre race from Skagway to Whitehorse in 11 hours, four minutes and 51 seconds, preventing a fifth straight win for Whitehorse’s Scarecrow.

Team Raven took flight once again over the weekend.

The Anchorage team, Skinny Raven: Take No Prisoners, flew through the course and won the open division of the 32nd annual Klondike Trail of ‘98 International Road Relay from Friday to Saturday.

They finished the 175-kilometre race from Skagway to Whitehorse in 11 hours, four minutes and 51 seconds, preventing a fifth straight win for Whitehorse’s Scarecrow.

It was Raven’s first time in the race since 2009, when the team captured their seventh consecutive open title.

“I’ve run Klondike the last 10 years and for some reason this was the most special,” said Raven captain Andrew Richie. “Bringing back the team and having that competition with Scarecrow added another element that we never experienced before.”

“We had eight guys on our team - two guys doubled - and we ended up pulling it off. It was a lot of work, but it was great.”

Scarecrow, who won the title the last four years, placed second overall on Saturday with a time of 11:04:51.

This past weekend was the first time the two teams went head to head in the relay. In 2010 Scarecrow was the first Canadian team to win the open division in 17 years.

“I think, generally, people are happy with the races they did,” said Scarecrow captain David Eikelboom. “Quite a bit of people ran faster than last year. We had fun out there, so I think we’re feeling positive about it; I don’t think anyone is at home moping right now.”

Team Raven took a small lead on Leg 1 and held it all the way to Whitehorse’s Rotary Park with a pace of 15.9 kilometres an hour. But Scarecrow was not without their own small victories.

Whitehorse’s Graham Nishikawa, a national team cross-country skier new to Scarecrow this year, set the fastest pace of any of the approximately 1,661 runners in the race.

He won Leg 9 with a blistering pace of 17.5 kilometres an hour.

Team Raven’s Eric Strabel set the second fastest pace in the race at 17 kilometres an hour. Scarecrow runners Logan Roots and Logan Boehmer were third and fourth at 16.9 and 16.7 respectively.

Besides Nishikawa, four other Scarecrow runners won their legs, with Dave Brook on Leg 3, Roots on Leg 6, Ray Sabo on Leg 7, and Boehmer on Leg 10.

“I lost my leg by 16 seconds, which sucks,” said Eikelboom. “But Dave Brook won his by six seconds. So it wasn’t a blowout. We had some really good performances today.”

“In the first two or three legs they got a little bit of distance on us - maybe four minutes,” he added. “Then we started to crawl back a little bit, but then opened up a little bigger of a lead on us and we weren’t able to come back from that.”

“We got within 25 seconds at the end of stage 7. It wasn’t a blowout, certainly.”

Juneau team “Los(t) Lobos” took third overall with a time of 15:13:03.

Both Eikelboom and Richie said their teams will be back next year.

“I’m hoping that this lit a fire under some of the guys who have done it in the past, and some of the local runners, and I hope we have one, if not two, competitive teams in the next couple of years,” said Richie.

Richie’s team wasn’t the only Raven team flying through the course.

Anchorage’s Team Raven Sistas - also sponsored by the Skinny Raven Sports store - won the women’s division.

They won the majority of their legs and crossed the finish in 13:08:22 to place fourth overall behind the top three men’s teams.

Whitehorse’s Ladies Worth Freezin’ For, who’s name is inspired by the slogan of their sponsor Yukon Brewing, placed second at 14:39:58.

The Freezin’ For ladies, which was the defending team in the category, was the 10th in overall.

“We’re pretty happy. We lost some good runners this year due to pregnancy and injury and things like that, so we found some new girls and they did pretty good,” said Freezin’ For captain Virginia Sarrazin.

“We’ll be back for sure (next year), hopefully with the same core members.”

Whitehorse’s Fireballs!! Ran to third in the women’s division with a time of 15:38:58.

Juneau’s Team 8 ate up the competition in the mixed division. They took first at 12:12:49 with the fastest female in the race, Shannon Gress, cruising at a speed of 15.9 kilometres an hour on her leg.

Anchorage’s Rolling Blackouts took second (14:13:57) and Anchorage’s Rain Dogs (14:58:16) third.

The top Yukon team was Whitehorse’s Reel Runners in fourth with a time of 15:03:53.

Whitehorse teams topped five of the race’s 11 divisions this year, down from seven last year.

Teams from the Yukon capital ran to the top of all three masters divisions.

Whitehorse team Charlie’s Angels defended their title from last year, winning the masters women division with a time of 16:45:13.

The team included Joanne VanBibber-Widrig, Josie Martin, Yolande Cherepak, Polly Thorp, Fran MacKellar, Laura Erickson, Maureen Johnstone, Nancy Thomson, Karen Loos and Cheryl Klippert.

Anchorage’s Crow’s Feet claimed second at 17:29:07 and Juneau’s Harriets Harriers third at 18:04:50.

The eight-person team Whitehorse Renegades took the masters mixed division in 14:26:30. The Renegades - Sandra Orban, Sue Bogle, Janet Clarke, John Carson, Stephan Atmanspacher, Lisa Evans, Paul Mason and Terry Berezan - was the seventh team overall in the relay.

Anchorage’s The Classics posted a time of 14:36:24 for second and Juneau’s Still Runnin with Glenn 14:38:41 for third.

Whitehorse’s Cabriolet Xcelerators made it four in a row with a win in the two-team open masters division.

The Xcelerators - Bill Matiation, Bill Parry, Don White, Chris Locke, Tom Ullyett, Ryan Leef, Thomas Tetz, Jerome McIntyre, Brendan Hanley and Dominic Bradford - kept the title with a time of 13:09:03 to beat Juneau’s C.C. Striders, in second at 15:10:02.

Whitehorse’s Chocolate Claim Walkers continued to dominate the walkers division, winning their ninth title since the division was added in 2004.

Like all the walking teams, Chocolate Claim Walkers - Jane Haydock, Becky Striegler, Bonnie Love and John Storms - left Carcross at 4:30 a.m. Saturday morning, reaching Whitehorse in 8:37:29 for first.

Whitehorse’s Slowly Heading North took second posting a time of 9:02:04. Whitehorse’s Token Male grabbed third at 10:13:13.

Skagway’s Club took first in the eight-person walking division from Carcross, finishing in 10:02:23. Whitehorse’s School of Walk (10:24:51) placed second and Whitehorse’s All Girls and a Guy (10:27:15) third.

Whitehorse’s Kluane Drilling Road Runners drilled the competition in the youth division.

Thomas Moore, Thomas Bakica, Neil Mikkelsen, Michael Kishchuk, Connor Cozens, Sawyer Adams, Naoise Dempsey and Isaac Obrien finished the race from Carcross in 5:53:35 for first.

Juneau’s Batteries Not Included - the only non-Whitehorse team in the division of eight - came in at 6:07:19 for second.

Superhero’s in Training took third with a time of 6:12:49.

This year’s Klondike relay saw a record 178 teams registered, with 1,661 racers - about 300 more than last year.

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