Runners race Reckless Raven

Dominic Bradford crests Haeckle Hill during the 2020 Reckless Raven ultra marathon race on June 28. (Mark Kelly Photography)
James Paterson races through Fish Creek during the 2020 Reckless Raven ultra marathon on June 28. (Mark Kelly Photography)
A 2020 Reckless Raven ultra marathon racer runs the Blown Away trail on Mount McIntyre on June 28. (Mark Kelly Photography)
A small audience cheers as Ian Weir runs the last few metres of the 80-kilometre Reckless Raven ultra marathon at Mount McIntyre Recreation Centre in Whitehorse on June 28, 2020. Weir finished with a time of nine hours, 30 minutes and two seconds. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Ian Weir, winner of the men’s solo Reckless Raven ultra marathon, has his shoes removed by partner Tellyse Parent, after finishing the 80-kilometre race on June 28, 2020. Weir finished with a time of nine hours, 30 minutes and two seconds. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Vanessa Scharf cheers as she finishes the second leg of the 80-kilometre Reckless Raven ultra marathon as her relay partner Vincent Larochelle directs her to the finish timer at Mt. McIntyre Recreation Centre in Whitehorse on June 28, 2020. Scharf and Larochelle won the mixed team relay with a time of 9 hours, 49 minutes and six seconds. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Denise McHale runs the last few metres of the 80-kilometre Reckless Raven ultra marathon with her daughter Yari by her side at Mount McIntyre Recreation Centre in Whitehorse on June 28, 2020. McHale won the woman’s sole race with a time of 10 hours, 42 minutes and 46 seconds. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Nearly 60 Yukoners completed the fourth annual Reckless Raven 50-mile Ultra and Relay, the territory’s first big sporting event to happen since COVID-19 forced the cancellation of most events, on June 28.

Denise McHale, who won her third women’s solo category on Sunday, was pleased the race happened.

“It was so nice to be out there racing again — to have sort of a sense of normalcy,” McHale said.

McHale had originally planned to race the relay event this year, meaning she would only run half the course, but after her partner dropped out due to injury and all the big events she planned to run in beforehand were cancelled, she decided she could run the whole race again this year.

“I actually went out with a friend about a week and a half ago because he wanted to do a bit more of the course and we ran pretty much the first section and I felt pretty good,” McHale said. “So I was like, ‘You know what? I’ll just suck it up (and run the whole course).’”

Her plan was to run slow, have fun, and hopefully finish the race in less than 11 hours. She finished the race in 10 hours, 42 minutes and 46 seconds.

The weather this year compared to last year was perfect, added McHale about the racing conditions.

“You couldn’t ask for anything better,” McHale said. “Last year it was through the forest fires and it was like 32 C. So this felt pretty great. I had a good time out there.”

Race director John Carson said the event was a success, despite the smaller turnout due to no out of territory racers and the changes that were made to comply with COVID-19 precautions.

“It’s really easy to cancel an event and ultra running is all about overcoming hardship,” Carson said. “So we really wanted to demonstrate to the local community, athletic and non-athletic, that you can be creative, you can be innovative and stage an event.”

In fact, a few of the changes made this year are ones the race will likely keep in the future, said Carson, such as the nurse stations (instead of just first-aid stations) and the rule that racers must carry a cell phone during the race.

Other added precautions were the cancellation of the pre-race meeting and the post-race party, social distancing at aid stations, a rolling start instead of a mass start and sanitization of stick timers between relay racers.

“We all need, I think in these times, some symbols and goals and positive messages and positive actions,” Carson said. “We kind of had a calculated approach and started with our plan back in April, and (I’m) just glad that at all came together.”

Ian Weir was this year’s overall individual winner, finishing the race in nine hours, 30 minutes and two seconds. Derek Cronmiller was second in the men’s category, ending with a time of 10 hours, 38 minutes and 59 seconds. Peter Mpala was third in 10 hours, 46 minutes and seven seconds.

McHale was the fastest woman, finishing in 10 hours, 42 minutes and 46 seconds — good for third overall in individual competition. Lindsay Knezevich finished second in the women’s category with a time of 12 hours, one minute and 47 seconds. Natalie Thivierge was third in 13 hours, 55 minutes and 12 seconds.

The fastest men’s team, and fastest overall team, was Recklessly Running to McDonalds. The duo of Jonathan Hawkins and Shane Orban finished in nine hours and 12 minutes. Second place in the men’s team category went to McMaster University, made up of Ryan Durack and Tyler De Jong, who finished in nine hours, 51 minutes and 47 seconds. Third place went to Benoit Turcotte and Ben Lambert under the name Federal-Territorial Waters Association with a time of nine hours, 55 minutes and eight seconds.

The fastest mixed team was 2 Non Blondes, comprised of Vincent Larochelle and Vanessa Scharf, with a time of nine hours, 49 minutes and six seconds. In second place was Marital Bliss, Dominic Bradford and Tiffani Fraser, with a time of 10 hours, 12 minutes and 42 seconds. Team Entropy, made up of Thaidra Sloane and Marty O’Brian, finished third in 12 hours, 45 minutes and 24 seconds.

The fastest women’s team was The Joyful Runners, Kristy Petovello and Hannah McDonald, with a time of 10 hours, 19 minutes and seven seconds. The duo of Emilie Stewart-Jones and Emma Seward finished second under the name This Isn’t a Ski Race! with a time of 10 hours, 34 minutes and two seconds. In third place was Running From the Law, made up of Lauren Whyte and Sarah Bailey, with a time of 11 hours, 16 minutes and 15 seconds.

Contact Crystal Schick at crystal.schick@yukon-news.com

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