Longtime Yukon mover-and-shaker Gordon Davis is nearing the completion of a goal more than a decade in the making.
Davis, 75, has returned from Vancouver to run Leg 7 in the 31st annual Klondike Trail of ‘98 International Road Relay early Saturday morning.
With the completion of the 14.2-kilometre leg from Carcross to Emerald Lake, Davis will have his name etched on the Senator’s Cup, which commemorates those who have completed all 10 legs of the 176.5-kilometre race from Skagway, Alaska to Whitehorse.
“It’s going to feel good because I don’t have to fuss about it anymore,” said Davis. “I’ve had injuries the last few years and as a result it’s really slowed me down. But I had to get it done.”
Davis first ran a leg in the race in 2000 and returned eight more times for the race before injuries kept him out the last two years.
When he reaches Emerald Lake on Saturday, his name will join over 120 others on the trophy that was donated by Senator Dan Lang of the Yukon in 2010.
“It was donated primarily from the point of view of recognizing all the runners who have run all these years,” said Lang. “Most of them have never really been recognized because they don’t necessarily win their leg, but they always show up every year. It recognizes that someone has accomplished the Skagway to Whitehorse run.
“The most important principle behind the trophy is that it recognizes fitness. The important aspect of this is for us who go out on an annual basis – a daily-basis training. It contributes to a personal fitness program, which is important for all Canadians.”
Davis first participated in the Klondike road relay in 2000, but he came to the Yukon long before that.
He first arrived in Whitehorse in 1959 while Main Street was first being paved, he notes. Ten years later, he became one of the founders of the Cyprus Anvil Mining Corporation in Faro. Cyprus Anvil went on to become one of the largest lead-zinc mines in the world before it ceased operations in 1984.
Lang was part of the exploration crew at the company while still in high school.
“I was there the day that Gordon and everyone knew they hit it … hit that core,” said Lang.
Davis later co-founded the charter flight service Trans North Helicopters in 1967. The company currently has six bases within the territory.
“So Trans North has been around for 46 years and is still going strong,” said Davis. “When there hasn’t been exploration business or the relay, the reason I come to the Yukon several times a year is because of the helicopter business, to keep track of what’s going on.”
Davis will be racing on the masters mixed team Trans North Helicopters in the relay, which begins Friday evening in Skagway. This year’s race has 147 teams entered, with 75 from Alaska, 68 from the Yukon, three from British Columbia, and one from the Northwest Territories.
“I think (Leg) 2 is one of the easiest ones because it’s short and you get it over with, even though it’s uphill,” said Davis. “You get it over within an hour and 20 minutes or something like that.
“I had an adventure on that one … I let the support vehicle go ahead and right away I ran into a fog bank with zero visibility and I was totally disorientated. I actually hit a guardrail on the opposite side of the road I was running on.
“(Leg) 6 is the toughest because of the (25.6-kilometre) length and there are a couple of hills on it.”
Lang is also on a masters mixed team, Big Red and the Wolf Pack, out of Juneau. His name is already on the Senator’s Cup. Once he completes Leg 9 on Saturday, he will be six legs through completing all 10 a second time.
“This does give an incentive for people to stay fit,” added Lang of the Cup. “Once they get to the sixth or seventh leg, they think, ‘If I do it for three more years, I can qualify for the Senator’s Cup.’ So it’s another reason to get out and continue to be involved.”
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