Runners leave the start line of the 2014 Klondike Trail of ‘98 International Road Relay Skagway. The 2021 race will start at checkpoint six and remain in the Yukon only. (Tom Patrick/Yukon News)

Runners leave the start line of the 2014 Klondike Trail of ‘98 International Road Relay Skagway. The 2021 race will start at checkpoint six and remain in the Yukon only. (Tom Patrick/Yukon News)

Klondike Road Relay returns to in-person after a virtual year

A modified, in-person Klondike Road Relay will be open to Yukoners

COVID may have forced the 2020 Klondike Road Relay to take the virtual route in 2020, but not in 2021. Kind of.

“We are really excited to put something on where people are physically running on the road in a modified race that’s not all virtual,” said Tracey Bilsky, executive director at Sport Yukon.

The Klondike Road Relay is popular not just in the Yukon, but in Alaska and beyond as well. This is where the virtual aspect comes in.

“It will be open to just Yukoners,” said Bilsky. “We feel those 40 teams will fill up quickly and we’d like the priority to be for our Yukoners. For our friends that can’t come to the Yukon we are also going to offer a virtual event. The committee decided they will work on an adjacent virtual event.”

The 2021 rendition of the race will have a different feel, but Bilsky said the essence of the race will still be there.

Before COVID, the Klondike Road Relay attracted over 2,000 athletes. This year, the number will be closer to 400.

The easing of restrictions made committing to the race easier for organizers.

“It is a bit of a leap of faith, but one we felt more comfortable making once we heard the last announcement from the CMO where restrictions are being eased,” said Bilsky.

“We can only hope for more released by the fall, but if they aren’t we have faith that we can hold this event.”

Bilsky added that people have been asking for the race since Christmas.

“We’ve always wanted to and now we are at a point where we are just going to go for it,” said Bilsky.

The Klondike Road Relay is Sport Yukon’s biggest fundraiser.

“We just want to put this on without losing any money since we are a non-profit,” said Bilsky. “Registration is where we make our money. If our services are still the same we can take a hit, but it is a leap of faith. We will be responsible and make sure we don’t lose our shirts.”

The race will begin at checkpoint six at the B.C.-Yukon border. Checkpoints seven, eight, nine and 10 have half-sections for the youth category and now checkpoint six will have one as well.

“It is an opportunity for those who like running shorter distances to still run teams of 10,” said Bilsky. “Or you can have a team of five or we may have ultras who want to run the whole thing.”

Maybe most importantly, the race will still begin with a howl to remember the late Buckwheat Donahue who died in October 2019.

“We definitely will do that in honour of Buckwheat at checkpoint six,” said Bilsky. “We miss him terribly and we’ll definitely need to have a howl.”

Information about the Klondike Road Relay will continue to roll out over the coming months. Registration is set to open in late June.

Registration will be capped based on the recommendations of the Chief Medical Officer of Health’s office.

Contact John Tonin at john.tonin@yukon-news.com

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