Whitehorse’s Sam Mather cemented his status as a running phenom up Haeckel Hill on Saturday.
The nine-year-old finished second at Athletic Yukon’s annual Haeckel Hill Run, a 6.4-kilometre race that takes runners up 584 metres in elevation from start to finish.
That’s second overall out of 19 runners and walkers, not second in a youth division.
“It was really fun. I got kind of tired – at the start they were talking about the water-stop, but once we got to the water I kind of got a boost of energy,” said Mather. “And then it was really fun to the top.”
Mather completed the race in 41 minutes and 32 seconds, just 7:33 from the course record set by Yukon MP Ryan Leef in 2003.
Not only was it his first time in the event, Mather also had very little time to prepare for it.
“I actually just heard about it yesterday,” said Mather. “I had no idea it even existed. So I asked my mom (Natalie Dugas) if I could come and she said, ‘Yeah, sure.’
“So this morning I got up early and came. It was fun.”
Mather, who is a student at Ecole Emilie-Tremblay, won his age division at all four running races held by the Yukon Schools Athletics Association this spring. He’s already eyeing bigger prizes on the horizon.
“I think I might do the River Trail (Marathon) next year or the year after because it sounds really fun and my mom does it every year,” said Mather.
As fast as Mather was, he wasn’t quite as fast as first place’s Scott Williams.
Williams reached the finish line at 1,402 metres above sea level with a time of 37:18.
“I was definitely breathing hard, harder than I usually do,” said Williams. “I was definitely feeling the uphill after that little drop where they put the green bucket with the water. Right there I was really feeling it. It was pretty sore.”
Williams, who is a regular at Athletic Yukon’s Thursday night trail runs, finished third overall in the marathon distance of the Yukon River Trail Marathon – his first full marathon – last summer and was first for males 40-49.
It was the Colorado-native’s first time in the Haeckel Hill Run since moving to Whitehorse five years ago.
“I’ve wanted to do it, but for whatever reason in past years, I’ve not gotten around to it,” said Williams. “So it’s nice to be able to do it finally.
“I try not to go out too fast. I start out easy and make sure I have my pace and my breathing in a nice rhythm before I try to apply any speed.”
“I tried to keep up with Scott, but I guess that wasn’t an option,” added Mather. “So then I just tried to do my best … It’s really steep.”
The top female finisher, Whitehorse’s Sue Bogle, is bouncing back from an Achilles injury last season in a big way.
Bogle completed the race in 47:04, less than five minutes from the female course record of 41:18 set by Whitehorse’s Denise McHale in 2011.
“This one felt harder today. I’m fighting a bit of a flu bug,” said Bogle, who was the top female at the 2009 Haeckel Hill Run with a time of 46:09. “Uphill, after I haven’t eaten in the last two days, felt tough.
“I wanted to show my kids you can grind through things, even if you’re not feeling good.”
Bogle has already placed first this season in the half-distance for women 45-49 at the Miami Marathon and was second for her age in a half-marathon in Edmonton this spring.
“My time was two and a half minutes faster than Miami, but there was some speed demon, 45-year-old woman, so I came second,” said Bogle. “But I was really happy with my time because it was a hillier course.”
Bogle was also the masters female winner at last year’s Yukon Cross Country Championships.
1st Scott Williams – 37:18
2nd Sam Mather – 41:32
3rd Scott Gilbert – 45:12
4th Ben Yu Schott – 46:34
5th Ross Knox – 46:57
6th Francis Whiteman – 50:48
7th Ken Slyvestre – 51:23
8th Keith Lay – 58:46
9th Bryan Craven – 1:00:04
1st Sue Bogle – 47:04
2nd Natalie Dugas – 48:38
3rd Janet Clarke – 51:30
4th Sarah Johnson – 52:08
1st Bonnie Love – 1:00:54
2nd Tanya Astika – 1:00:55
3rd Robin Fairburn – 1:00:58
4th Ruth Hall – 1:05:29
5th Mike Ivens – 1:09:19
6th Elise Maltinsky – 1:09:37
Contact Tom Patrick at email@example.com