Denise McHale, left, and Brian Stuart run down a section of trail near Jackson Lake. (Tom Patrick/Yukon News)

Runners go ultra-far in new Whitehorse distance

‘I was thrilled to not have to run another step’

There were doubtless a lot of long-distance runners in Whitehorse who were glad Monday was a holiday after a very long Sunday.

Thirty-five solo runners and 25 two-person teams hit the trails for the inaugural Reckless Raven 50 Mile Ultra in and around Whitehorse on July 2.

“After the race I was feeling all kinds of things. Emotionally I was thrilled to not have to run another step. Physically my body was destroyed. But I was extremely happy with my results,” said Whitehorse’s Ian Weir. “I could not have been more impressed with the race. I think the organizers did an amazing job at picking and marking a difficult yet beautiful course. The event went very smoothly for the first year so a big thanks to the Reckless Raven crew.”

Weir was the top solo finisher in the race that started and finished at the Mount McIntyre Rec Centre in Whitehorse. The 25-year-old crossed the line in eight hours, 58 minutes and five seconds.

Weir has never done a marathon, to say nothing of a 50-mile (80.5-kilometre) race before.

“I have done a few 24-hour adventure races which include running, biking and canoeing but this was by far my longest strictly running event,” said Weir. “My training for the race started a bit later then I would have liked. I also learned a lot about what differences I will make for next time. I didn’t decide to do the Reckless Raven till about three months ago which is enough time to get ready but I would have prefers 16 weeks minimum.”

Weir, who won last year’s Long Lake Triathlon, came in with a pair of Whitehorse runners not far behind. Dominic Bradford finished in 9:05:19 for second and David Eikelboom in 9:15:45 for third.

“Overall, the race was an absolute success,” said Stephan Atmanspacher, a race organizer and participant. “We had phenomenal feedback from almost all the racers. Actually we had a guy from Europe and he said it beats any race he’s done in Europe so far. We had people from Ottawa, Vancouver, and we got overwhelming feedback from all of them — not only for the organization, but the trail as well, the scenic route.”

Vancouver’s Allison Thompson, who is currently living in Inuvik, took first in the solo female division. She completed the course — Mountt McIntyre to Raven’s Ridge to MacIntyre Marsh to Haeckel Hill to Sumanik Ridge to Jackson Lake to Sunshine Valley Ranch to Fish Lake to Mt. McIntyre Ascent Road to Copper Haul Road and back to Mount McIntyre — in 9:38:59, finishing fifth overall for solos.

“I ran with her for a while and she told me it was really difficult for her to train because, A, it was in the midst of winter when she had to start her training, and B, it’s pretty flat up there, so she couldn’t really train for hills too well,” said Atmanspacher. “So it’s really an impressive result for her.”

Carcross’ Denise McHale, a former national 100-kilometre champ, placed second in solo female at 10:27:23. Vancouver’s Christina Porte placed third at 10:42:15.

Whitehorse teams won all three two-person relay divisions.

Brian Horton and Dave Brook teamed up for the fastest time of the day — 8:30:41 — to win the male relay.

Lindsay Hutchison and Kristy Petovello (10:29:55) were the fastest female team.

Larra Daley and Tom Ullyett (11:03:15) were winners of the mixed relay.

No injuries were recorded, but there were a few scratches. Two relay teams and six solo runners dropped out during the race.

Organizers “absolutely” plan to make the ultra an annual event, said Atmanspacher.

“I would add a huge thank you to everyone that made the race happen,” added Weir. “I am also impressed with anyone who attempted to run either the full or the team event. That course was not easy and anyone willing to take it on deserves applause. A race like that is all about personal goals and discovering a lot about ones self.”

Contact Tom Patrick at tomp@yukon-news.com

Top five finishers

Solo male

1st Ian Weir — 8:58:05

2nd Dominic Bradford — 9:05:19

3rd David Eikelboom — 9:15:45

4th Brendan Morphet — 9:36:49

5th Brian Stuart — 10:42:06

Solo female

1st Allison Thompson — 9:38:59

2nd Denise McHale — 10:27:23

3rd Christina Porte — 10:42:15

4th Jessie Gladish — 12:50:46

5th Bronwyn Benkert — 12:59:01

Male relay

1st Brian Horton/ Dave Brook — 8:30:41

2nd Ryan Davis/ Andrew Thompson — 9:40:54

3rd Stephan Atmanspacher/Maxime Aerts — 10:27:29

4th Scott Williams/ Ben Yu-Schott — 10:59:42

Female relay

1st Lindsay Hutchison/Kristy Petovello — 10:29:55

2nd Maura Sullivan/Deb Higgis — 10:42:32

3rd Kendra Murray/Sara Murray — 10:42:49

4th Sandra McDougall/Sue Bogel — 11:20:48

5th Kat Davis/Rebecca Davis — 11:40:54

Mixed relay

1st Larra Daley/Tom Ullyett — 11:03:15

2nd JF Roldan/Leslie Doran — 11:25:44

3rd Griffith Wynn/Kristy Zichowka — 11:47:45

4th Colin Hickman/Sara Galbraith — 11:49:10

5th Matt Sprau/Erin Trochim — 12:47:37

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