The Sticky Wicket Pub in Victoria, BC was an honorary part of the territory on Sunday.
Fresh from the GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon, dozens of Yukoners filled the establishment to drink a few pints and exchange stories of their runs earlier in the day.
The 31st annual marathon saw a record number of Yukoners take part, with 79 registering and 66 completing the full, half or eight-kilometre runs.
“Of the 79, according to the (marathon’s) web page, there were only 66 finishers, so I don’t know what happened to the other people,” said Keith Thaxter, president of the Boreal Adventure Running Association. “I can think of a bunch of people who didn’t run or go to Victoria. They just registered in advance but didn’t actually make the trip, which is common – a lot of people do that.”
The record-setting contingent of Yukoners present was, in part, made possible by Air North, allowing Boreal Association, Athletics Yukon and Sport Yukon to charter a direct flight from Whitehorse to Victoria and back.
“I worked with Air North and we proposed this idea and they put on a special direct charter,” said Thaxter. “It sold out so we’ll probably will be doing it again next year.”
Topping the list of Yukoners in the marathon was Whitehorse’s Michael Richards, finishing 29th out of 3,221 runners, coming in with a time of two hours, 49 minutes and 21 seconds.
“For me, it was a deeply personal accomplishment that I’ve been working towards for a long time,” he said.
Richards, who won the Yukon River Trail Marathon at the start of August, was competing in just his second marathon and his first on roads.
“It’s a big difference,” he said. “(The) road is much faster and has a less forgiving surface. On the trail it’s hard to compare your performance with other marathons. (On roads) it’s flatter; it’s faster and harder, in my opinion.”
Like a handful of other Yukoners, Richards qualified for the Boston Marathon and New York Marathon with his run on Sunday, although he has not committed himself to either.
“It’s like the Oscars or the Emmys, it’s an honour just to get nominated – it’s an honour to qualify,” he said.
Running in what he believes to be his 73rd marathon, Thaxter was the second-fastest Yukoner, finishing 62nd – 12th in the 45-49 age group – with a personal best time of 2:57:52.
Turning from expert to novice, Yukon’s Larra Daley, racing in her first marathon, was the third Yukoner over the line with a time of 3:25:51. Daley came in 303rd overall and 40th for women.
“I had it in my mind for years that I wanted to run a marathon, I finally got it in my body this year,” she said. “I’m from Victoria, so that always felt like the first one I’d like to do, and go back and see family.”
Coming in fourth for Yukoners was Cynthia Freeman in 344th followed by Matt Ordish in 603rd.
Some Yukoners were also burning it up in the half-marathon event, with Whitehorse’s Rodney Hulstein cracking the top-10 with a ninth-place finish, cruising over the finish line in 1:13:36. Hulstein, who won the half at the River Trail Marathon this summer, significantly moved up in the standing from last year when he failed to make the top-100.
“Last year I started at the very back of everyone, so it took five kilometres to get even close to the front,” said Hulstein. “This year I was there on time and made sure I was at the front. I was registered as an elite runner, so I could go up to the front and do my thing.”
Trailing Hulstein from 20 spots behind was Teslin’s Karl Blattmann, Yukon’s second in for the half and the only non-Whitehorse resident, finishing in 1:18:13. Jacob Loos was the Yukon’s third in, taking 270th.
The territory’s top female in the half was Katherine Scheck, coming 144th for women and 565th overall with a time of 1:42:52. Scheck, who was the sixth Yukoner in, was just a spot up from Piia Kukka, placing 805th overall and 230th for women.
In the eight-kilometre race Yanik Freeman placed 51st to be Yukon’s top male finisher while Carolyn Coombs was the territory’s top female, placing 390th overall and 114th for women.
“It was fantastic to have so many Yukoners down there,” said Richards. “Hearing so many people shout out, ‘Way to go, Mike!’ it was awesome to have the support.
“The charter flight down from Air North was awesome to have. It was another addition to the camaraderie.”
“Every kilometre I’d have someone cheering for me,” said Hulstein. “I didn’t really have time to look and see who it was. It was just nice to have so many Yukoners there cheering you on.”
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