Tough new course at XC championships

A city construction project on the Mt. McIntyre ski trails created work for organizers of the Yukon Cross Country Championships.

A city construction project on the Mt. McIntyre ski trails created work for organizers of the Yukon Cross Country Championships. And it didn’t do runners competing at Sunday’s championships any favours either.

Organizers had to use a different route than normal, selecting one with large climbs.

“The main feature of the adult loops, which is a two-kilometre loop, is Telemark Hill,” said Tom Ullyett, who had the fastest masters men time. “Anybody who cross-country skis on the trails here knows Telemark Hill is a very steep hill. It’s actually part of what used to be a downhill ski area here in Whitehorse decades ago.

“And there’s another steep little hill right before Telemark, so the first half of the course has some pretty tough hills. It challenges your lung capacity, it lets you know what your VO2 max is, what your maximum heart rate is and it’s also quite a challenge on your calf muscles and quads.”

However, the steep climbs suited the open winners, Ray Sabo and Maura Sullivan, just fine.

“It was awesome,” said Sabo, who completed the 10-kilometre run in 38 minutes, 27 seconds. “Running in the US, in the collegiate race circuit, their idea of cross-country courses is running on grass fields in parks – it’s really flat. So it’s nice to find a course that has real hills.

“I really like it. I hope they keep this course.”

Though the hills were fine for Sabo, who took in his first Yukon championship, his run wasn’t exactly clean. Sabo accidently skipped a section of the course on his first lap, but completed the missed part twice during his following lap to make up for it, after a quick consultation with the judges.

In second was two-time Whitehorse Triathlon champion Joel Macht in 44:41, ahead of third place’s Michael Lemmon in 47:18.

Sullivan was the only runner in the open women’s division, but she still posted the fastest time in the three divisions running eight kilometres, coming in at 33:03.

“I like running on trails, so that’s good,” said Sullivan. “There were two really hard hills on the loop, but I like going up hill and it was good going down. My legs feel good – it’s such a different feeling than going on the pavement.

“I run on these trails all the time, so I like running here.”

Frequent runs with his mom did the trick for Thomas Bakica. Competing in the boys 8-10 division, Bakica had the fastest time out of the three groups running the one-kilometre loop, finishing in 4:37.

“I run the 4.5 (kilometres) almost every day,” said Bakica, who won his division at the Five-Kilometre Road Race Championships in July. “I think it went pretty well. Nothing stood out about it, but I think all the other people did very well.”

Sabo’s speed, in running shoes or on skis, is no secret. Sabo set the fastest overall time for Leg 8 of the Klondike Trail of ‘98 International Road Relay earlier this month, helping Whitehorse’s Scarecrow to the team’s second straight win in the open division. Sabo also won his leg last year when Scarecrow became the first Canadian and Yukon team to win the division in 17 years.

He also just finished a five-year stint as a NCAA cross-country skier for University of Alaska Fairbanks, winning his conference at the CCSA Mayor’s Challenge SuperTour in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in January.

“I did that for the last five years and now I’m back here to ski for the Yukon,” said Sabo.

Sullivan also took in a noteworthy win this year, coming first in the Whitehorse Triathlon in June. She also was on Whitehorse’s top mixed team in the Klondike Road Relay (with Macht). Last summer Sullivan captured the women’s half-distance division at the 2010 Yukon River Trail Marathon.

Ullyett, who was the fastest in his division at the Five-Kilometre Road Race Championships, is one of 66 Yukoners who have so far registered for the Victoria Marathon, which is doubling as the BC Athletics Marathon Championship this year, on October 9.


Open men (20-39 years): 10 Km

1st Ray Sabo – 0:38:27

2nd Joel Macht – 0:44:41

3rd Michael Lemmon – 0:47:18

4th Ben Yu Schott – 0:48:59

Open women (20-39 years): 8 Km

1st Maura Sullivan – 0:33:03

Masters men (40-49 years): 8 Km

1st Fraser Roberts – 0:40:11

Masters women (40-49 years): 6 Km

1st Christine Smith – 0:31:43

2nd Anne Copeland – 0:41:27

Masters men (50-59 years): 8 Km

1st Tom Ullyett – 0:35:09

2nd Scott Gilbert – 0:36:20

3rd Francis Whiteman – 0:44:06

Masters women (50-59 years): 6 Km

1st Brenda Dion – 0:34:52

Masters men (60+): 4 Km

1st Grant Macdonald – 0:38:46

Masters women (60+): 4 Km

1st Shiela Senger – 0:27:54

Bantam boys (12-13 years): 2 Km

1st Luke Bakica – 0:09:37

2nd Alex Roberts – 0:10:18

Boys (8–10 years): 1.0 Km

1st Thomas Bakica – 0:04:37

2nd Andrew Roberts – 0:04:47

3rd Ewan Halliday – 0:04:54

Boys (5-7 years): 1.0 Km

1st Noah Connell – 0:06:21

2nd Mathias Frostad – 0:06:47

3rd Simon Connell – 0:07:10

Girls (5-7 years): 1.0 Km

1st Lisa Freeman – 0:06:12

Contact Tom Patrick at