A new dynasty may be in the making in the Klondike Trail of ‘98 International Road Relay.
Whitehorse’s Scarecrow defended their open title from last year, winning every leg in their category and five overall in the 176.5-kilometre race which began in Skagway, Alaska, Friday evening and finished in Whitehorse Saturday afternoon.
“It’s awesome, we’re really happy,” said Scarecrow captain Simon Lapointe. “Especially since we had two guys dropping out on us on Wednesday night and we had to scramble to find replacements.”
The team lost Stephen Waterreus and Shane Carlos, both members of last year’s winning squad, “because something came up.” As a result, returning team member Brent Langbakk ran Legs 2 and 3 while Fabien Brooks, son of new member Dave Brooks, came in as a last-minute recruit.
“Fabien did a great job winning Leg 7, which is very impressive for a young guy – he’s only 17,” said Lapointe. “It was pretty neat having father and son winning their respective legs.”
Last year, Scarecrow became the first Yukon – and first Canadian – team to win the open division at the relay since Whitehorse’s Pepsi Roadrunners won it in 1993.
But for the second straight year, Anchorage’s Skinny Raven: Take No Prisoners, which won the open division seven consecutive times between 2003 and 2009, was absent.
“Honestly, I think we were a little disappointed,” said Lapointe of the Skinny Raven absence. “We’re looking forward to them putting a strong team back in the lineup and having some strong competition.
“It was hard to start at midnight by ourselves – we were the only team starting at midnight – and it’s not the best way to be running. You always run better when you’re running with strong runners.”
At a blistering average pace of 9.3 miles an hour, Scarecrow finished in 11 hours, 44 minutes and 15 second, beating the second place open team, Juneau’s C. C. Striders, by more than two-and-a-half hours. In third was Juneau’s Rain Dogs ahead of Whitehorse’s Protect the PEELers in fourth.
Producing fastest times overall for their legs on Scarecrow were Lapointe (Leg 1), Fabien Brooks (Leg 7), Ray Sabo (Leg 8), Dave Brooks (Leg 9) and Karl Blattmann (Leg 10).
Sabo set the third fastest pace in the race, running his leg at an average speed of 10.4 miles an hour.
“He was blazing by everybody,” said Lapointe.
Running to fastest times in the open division were Langbakk (Legs 2 and 3), Luke Carlos (Leg 4), Logan Roots (Leg 5) and Michael Richards (Leg 6).
“We’re already planning for next year and if everyone keeps on running like they are right now, we’re going to have a very strong team,” said Lapointe. “The greatest thing is we have all these young guys coming – Fabien, Logan, Ray – and these guys are going to be running for many more years so it’s awesome to have them as part of this team.”
In the women’s event, Anchorage’s These Legs Go All The Way came in at 15:04:27 for first, just over eight minutes faster than Whitehorse’s A Penny Short of a Masters, last year’s women’s champions.
“We didn’t recapture our crown, so we’ll have something to work for next year,” said Penny Short captain Sue Bogle. “It wasn’t the exact same team as last year … so I think there were six the same and four different, but that wasn’t the reason we lost time.
“We had a lot of injured people, including myself, on the team. So that probably made a difference.”
A Penny Short slipped to second despite winning six of the race’s 10 legs, for their division, with runners Leslie Raeden (Leg 2), Bogle (Leg 3), Lisa Evans (Leg 5), Larra Daley (Leg 6), Penny Sheardown (Leg 7) and Michelle Toews (Leg 8).
Also on the team were Helen Strappers, Ada Johnstone, Donna Jones and Linda Hamilton.
In third was Whitehorse’s Cougars … It’s Business Time with runners Chrissy McConnell, Tammy Reis, Carolyn Coombs, Leyla Weston, Debbie Higgins, Fran Nyman, Jennifer England, Michelle Beaulieu, Leslie Doran and Aisha Montgomery.
Anchorage’s Team Raven, which won the last eight legs for mixed teams, took the category.
Whitehorse’s top finisher was curling-themed team Hurry Hard!!! in fifth.
Though finishing one spot down from last year (under the name Blues Runners), the team, mostly teachers and spouses from Vanier Catholic Secondary School, had their fastest time in almost a decade of competing.
“We were the Vanier Clydesdales for a number of years, then we started to have our name reflect what costumes or themes we were doing,” said Hurry Hard captain Michelle Rigoni. “One guy on our team, Dave, made some curling rocks with wheels under, so when people were finishing they could curl a rock over the line. We were sweeping people through and that sort of stuff.”
Hurrying hard for the team, that finished ninth overall in the race, were members Mark Connell, Amanda Deuling, David Michayluk, Catherine Fussell, Sylvie Hamel, (Rigoni on Leg 6), Amy Riske, Maura Sullivan, Sean McCarron, Joel Macht.
“We had a number of people with assorted injuries, but all the injuries seemed to be kept at bay,” said Rigoni.
For the third year in a row, Whitehorse’s Chocolate Claim Walkers took the walking division, crossing the finish line in 8:35:19, beating Whitehorse’s Slowly Heading North in second by 24 minutes. On board for the win were Tanya Astika, Bonnie Love, Arlene Ogden and Ruth Hall.
Whitehorse’s Cabriolet Xcelerators won the open masters, beating out the division’s only other competitors, Juneau’s Los(t) Lobos, and producing the fastest time of any masters team. (Juneau’s Smokin’ Ole Geezers, who won the division last year and numerous other times over decades of competing, did not enter a team.)
Propelling the Xcelerators to the fifth fastest time overall in the race were Bill Matiation, Brendan Hanley, Thomas Tetz, Dan Shier, Zeb Brown, Tom Ullyett, Greg Hare, Afan Jones and Bob Bowerman.
Snagging first in the youth category, which saw a record turnout with five teams, was Juneau’s Tsunami at 5:50:00.
In second was Whitehorse’s Everyone But Mac in 6:09:53 in front of Whitehorse’s The Green Squad Gremlins, who dropped into third with a five-minute time penalty.
On Everyone But Mac were Zoe Painter, Eliza Paul, Pia Blake, Marcus Deuling, Kassi Cairns Wright, Andrew Seal, Sam Bonar and Caelan McLean.
The ultra lost half of its field from last year’s record entry size, slipping from four to two. Nonetheless, Whitehorse’s Keith Thaxter regained his 2009 title, beating Anchorage’s Jay Liggett, with a time of 6:16:38.
Whitehorse’s The CS More Than Paper Shufflers took first in the corporate division, despite a 10-minute penalty, with a time of 16:42:37. In second was Whitehorse’s Northwestel High Speed at 16:50:22 with Whitehorse’s Crawl If You Have To at 17:01:22 in third.
The race had the highest participation since 2000, with 144 teams, consisting of 1,314 runners, taking part.
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