McHales peak on Haeckel Hill Run

Yukon's fastest couple was leaving the competition in the dust at the Yukon Energy Haeckel Hill Run on Saturday.

Yukon’s fastest couple was leaving the competition in the dust at the Yukon Energy Haeckel Hill Run on Saturday.

Whitehorse spouses Greg and Denise McHale were the fastest in the running divisions, topping a field of 22 participants.

“It’s always hard running up that hill no matter how in shape you are in,” said Denise. “I find no matter what stage of training I’m at, it’s just hard.

“But it went well. I think we were both fairly happy about how the run went.”

Her first time in the event, Denise set a new female record for her climb, reaching the top in 41 minutes and 18 seconds. Taking second was last year’s female winner Janet Clarke with a time of 49:18, ahead of third place’s Piia Kukka with 49:47.

Greg, who also won the event in 2007, completed the 6.1-kilometre race in 38:45, almost five minutes short of the record time of 33:59 set by the Yukon’s recently elected MP Ryan Leef in 2003.

“We’ve run it a lot together and he’s always that much ahead of me,” said Denise. “So I just tried to keep him in sight as long as I could. I’d catch him around a corner for a bit, but then I couldn’t see him any more.

“I always give it my best, but he’s just that much stronger.”

Taking second behind Greg was Scott Gilbert in 42:50, while Francis Whiteman climbed to third with a time of 49:04.

This is not even the first time this year the McHales have had wins in the same event.

In the Yukon Arctic Ultra in February, the two both won and set records for their divisions. Denise finished the marathon distance in three hours, 14 minutes for first, while Greg – the first Yukoner ever to attempt the 430-mile category – came first, beating the previous record by more than 20 hours.

The two have also twice won NWT’s Rock and Ice Ultra in their divisions.

In an instance of rotten luck, Denise’s 100-kilometre women’s Canadian record, set last November at the 100 Kilometre IAU World Championships in Gibraltar, has been stricken from the record book due to a mistake made by race officials.

Denise, who finished eighth in the race, shaved more than six minutes off the previous record, coming in with a time of seven hours, 56 minutes and 41 seconds.

However, after measuring the course and finding it just 90 metres short, the International Association of Ultrarunners (IAU) deemed all times inadmissible for record consideration.

Nonetheless, Denise still holds the open women’s record at the Yukon River Trail Marathon, running a 3:18:21 in 2003. She then ran just 13 seconds slower in 2009 to be the overall winner at the marathon.

Last September Denise also set a record at the Klondike Trail of ‘98 Road Relay in the ultra distance division.

This summer Denise will be on Team Canada for the World Trail Championships in Ireland, a 72-kilometre race on July 9.

Greg and Denise will also make up a two-person team for the TransRockies Run, a 190-kilometre race through the Rocky Mountains this summer in Colorado.


Male runners

1st Greg McHale – 0:38:45

2nd Scott Gilbert – 0:42:50

3rd Francis Whiteman – 0:49:04

4th Roger Hulstein – 0:51:07

5th Steve Cash – 0:51:46

6th Corey Roussell – 0:53:13

7th Keith Lay – 0:56:51

Female runners

1st Denise McHale – 0:41:18

2nd Janet Clarke – 0:49:18

3rd Piia Kukka – 0:49:47

4th Donna Jones – 1:00:21

5th Audrey Meyer – 1:02:21

6th Tracey Taylor – 1:02:29

7th Danielle Sheldon – 1:06:29

Male walkers

1st Rick Griffiths – 1:03:27

2nd Mike Ivens – 1:06:40

3rd Philip Gibson – 1:09:04

4th Peter Lesniak – 1:09:17

Female walkers

1st Tanya Astika – 1:02:21

2nd Ruth Hall – 1:02:21

3rd Havanna Papequash – 1:28:45

4th Roxanne Livingston – 1:28:54

Contact Tom Patrick at

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