Scarecrow will attempt to scare up a fourth-consecutive win at the Klondike Trail of ‘98 International Road Relay this weekend.
The Whitehorse team, which won the open division of the 175-kilometre race the last three years, has another batch of strong runners set to go.
In fact, for the first time, the team had more runners signed up than were needed for the 10 legs from Skagway, Alaska, to Whitehorse.
“We’ve got a big core of runners now, so it’s getting easier and easier to fill the spots each year,” said anchor Simon Lapointe. “We actually had too many runners, so Knute (Johnsgaard) decided step back and take a year off and not run this year.
“That’s never happened before. The previous years we had to look and ask around.
“Two years ago, (former team member) Brent Langbakk had to run two legs and the year before that Rodney Hulstein ran two legs as well.”
Scarecrow was the first Canadian team to win the open division in 17 years in 2010.
This year’s team members, in the order they plan to run, are Colin Abbott, Karl Blattmann, David Greer, Dave Brook, Logan Roots, David Eikelboom, Rodney Hulstein, Logan Boehmer, Ray Sabo and Lapoint.
“Most people have picked their legs … but there’s always the last-minute shuffle that happens every year,” said Lapointe.
Boehmer and Roots recently competed in athletics at the Canada Summer Games in Sherbrooke, Que. Boehmer, the only new member of Scarecrow, won the Chocolate Claim Pre-Skagway 10 Miler just over a week ago.
Eikelboom is the current Yukon cross-country running champion and winner of the Yukon River Trail Marathon last month.
“He’s been running a lot of long distances, so that leg is perfect for him,” said Lapointe. “Every team will put one of their best runners on that leg because it’s the hardest.”
Hulstein is a multiple time winner in five- and 10-kilometre territorial championships and won the half-distance events at the 2011 Skagway Marathon and the 2010 Yukon River Trail Marathon. He also placed ninth in the half distance at the 2010 Victoria Marathon.
Abbott, Greer, Sabo and Brook all have strong cross-country skiing backgrounds, with Abbott having competed at the U23 World Ski Championships last winter.
Blattmann is a two-time winner of the Whitehorse Triathlon who has competed in Iron Man races.
“He hasn’t been doing much running this year, he’s been biking a lot, but he has strong legs so we put him on an early leg,” said Lapointe, a two-time winner of the Mayo Marathon. “He’ll be doing Leg 2, which is uphill.”
Anchorage’s Skinny Raven Take No Prisoners team, which won the open division between 2003 and 2009, will be absent for a fourth straight year.
“It would be great for them to put together a team of very strong runners like they used to,” said Lapointe.
All but one of last year’s winning teams are back to defend their titles.
Whitehorse’s Cougars … It’s Business Time will lace-up to defend the women’s title.
“There’s a core group of us that just have a lot of fun doing whatever sport we’re doing,” said Cougars’ Aisha Montgomery. “We were dispersed over the summer and I did a lot of running on my own … I’ve taken it for granted, the years of training with people, how much fun it is.
“It’s pretty awesome. We have a pretty cool thing.”
The Cougars’ lineup, in the order they plan to run, includes Debbie Higgins, Tammy Reis, new member Manon Desforges, captain Leslie Doran, Fran Nyman, Montgomery on Leg 6, Laura Salmon, Nathalie Dugas, Michelle Beaulieu and Kristenn Magnusson, another new member, on Leg 10.
Whitehorse’s Cabriolet Xcelerators will attempt to make it three straight in the masters open (40-and-over) on the weekend. This year’s team, also listed in order, consists of Athletics Yukon head coach Don White, Jerome McIntyre, Zeb Brown, Scott Williams, Dominic Bradford, Thomas Tetz, Afan Jones, Brendan Hanley, Tom Ullyett and Dan Shier.
Whitehorse’s Charlie’s Angels – Nancy Thomson, Maureen Johnstone, Joanne VanBibber-Widrig, Karen Loos, Yolande Cherepak, Josie Martin, Tory Russell, Polly Thorp, Pauline Frost-Hanberg and Kelli Taylor – are back to defend in the masters women division.
Whitehorse’s Northwestel High Speed will try to keep up the speed for consecutive wins in the corporate division. On board are Robert Gillis, Sheldon Lyslo, Bill Greer, Sue Bogle, Barry Sugden, Terry Boone, Paul Flaherty, Robert Dunn, Cynthia Friedrich and Jason Bilsky.
Douglas, Alaska’s Team 8 is returning to defend in the mixed division, as will Anchorage’s The Classics in the masters mixed division.
In the special categories, from Carcross to Whitehorse, Whitehorse’s Slowly Heading North team of Ron MacMillan, Rick Griffiths, Don Roberts and Phil Gibson are back to defend their title in the walking division.
Whitehorse’s Keith Thaxter, who has won the ultra division five times since it was created in 2007, will attempt to make it three in a row on Saturday.
The only team not back to defend a title is Whitehorse’s The Green Squad Gremlins in the youth division.
This year’s race has 147 teams entered, with 75 from Alaska, 68 from the Yukon, three from British Columbia and one from the Northwest Territories.
The first group of runners will set off from Skagway on Friday at 6 p.m. Alaska time and the first runners into Whitehorse’s Rotary Park are expected around 10 a.m. Saturday.
Contact Tom Patrick at