Spring is here, but Whitehorse cross-country skiers are still bagging wins.
A number of members of the Yukon Ski Team produced top times at the 2013 Vanier Ridge Run, a Yukon Schools’ Athletic Association race that began and ended at Vanier Catholic Secondary on Friday.
The fastest male in the five-kilometre distance was F.H. Collins midget runner Caelan McLean with a time of 22:28.
McLean won two gold medals at the Western Canadian Cross-Country Ski Championships and claimed second in juvenile boys at the Haywood Ski Nationals.
“It was good,” said McLean, 15. “I like the up-hills, so it was fun. Down-hills aren’t nearly as fun running as they are cross-country skiing.”
Juvenile runner Marcus Deuling from F.H. Collins was the second fastest for males on the five-kilometre course with a time of 22:55. Junior Alec Smythe from Porter Creek Secondary was third fastest at 23:23.
Marcus, another Yukon team skier, was one of three Deulings to win divisions at the Vanier race.
F.H. Collins’ Hannah Deuling posted a time of 26:38 in the midget division to be fastest female overall in the five-kilometre race.
“It was good. Some of the hills are pretty tough, but it was fun,” said Hannah.
The Grade 8 student also won her division at the Carmacks school run a couple weeks earlier.
Running is a big part of conditioning when there’s no snow on the ground, said Hannah.
“For cross-country skiing cross-training, we run,” said Hannah.
Bantam runner Reena Coyne from Whitehorse Elementary was second fastest at 27:06.
Vanier’s Heather Clarke, alone in the junior female division, was third fastest overall with a time of 27.11. Clarke is a speed skater who competes at the national level. She was the fastest female in the five-kilometre division in 2011.
Atom male Sam Mather of Ecole Emilie-Tremblay and peewee Derek Deuling – yes, another Deuling – of Whitehorse Elementary decided to share the top spot in the three-kilometre race. The two friends crossed the finish line together at 20:20.
“I thought it was really fun,” said Mather. “The start was kind of packed, but as soon as we got to the trail everyone split up. At first Derek wasn’t there, but two minutes into the race he was next to me and we never split up. It was really fun.”
Both are cross-country skiers in the same program with the Whitehorse club.
Sometimes they can get competitive with each other, but not on Friday.
“It depends on what race. It depends on how we’re feeling,” sad Derek. “Half way through we knew we’d just stick together and finish the race together.”
Peewee Wyatt Peterson of Jack Hulland was third overall with a time of 21:00 in the three-kilometre run. Peterson was fastest in the three-kilometre race last year.
Peewees snatched all the fastest times on the three-kilometre course for females.
Holy Family’s Sonjaa Schmidt, who was fastest in the atom division last year, was first overall at 23:17. Whitehorse Elementary’s Celeste Findlay was second at 26:31 and Jack Hulland’s Hannah Jacobs claimed third with a time of 26:32.
Over 200 runners from 10 Yukon schools competed on Friday, up from about 170 runners from nine schools last year.
The Vanier Ridge Run features three big climbs. Runners first tackle Peewee Hill followed by Heartbreak Hill. The five-kilometre runners then cross Chadburn Lake Road and climb Yukon Electric Hill.
“It’s a really hard race with steep up-hills,” said Mather.