Ian Weir rests after finishing first in the 2018 Reckless Raven Ultra Marathon in Whitehorse. Weir was also the winner of the 2019 Duff’s Skagway Marathon and Half Marathon — finishing with a time of two hours, 48 minutes and 42 seconds. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Yukoners turn out in droves for Skagway Marathon

More than half the 162-person field at the Alaska race calls the Yukon home

The Duff’s Skagway Marathon and Half Marathon was June 8 in Skagway, Alaska, on an overcast, windy day nearly perfect for running.

Of the 186 racers registered in the walking half marathon, running half marathon and running marathon, 162 took part in the race.

“It was definitely a windy, windy day,” said race director Kristin Wagner. “We start and finish down on the Broadway Dock, so we get quite a bit of headwind there but nothing unusual for this marathon.”

Temperatures on the day were cooler than anticipated earlier in the week, but the cooler, overcast weather created ideal conditions for runners.

“Most of the racers agreed it was kind of perfect weather for a nice long run,” said Wagner. “Earlier in the week, we really thought it was going to be up in the high 60s F (18-21 C) and full sun. Although that always sounds good on paper, when you come to running, really, it just gets too hot.”

The field, which was half Yukoners, started at the dock before heading to Dyea, Alaska, where half marathon runners and walkers turned to return to the finish while full marathon runners continued further along West Creek Road.

With a course like that, it’s no surprise cooler temperatures and a breeze really improve conditions for runners.

“It’s a very hilly race. It’s a lot of ups and downs,” said Wagner. “The full (marathon), they keep going out to Dyea and they go up West Creek Road. It’s not so much a road as a rutted, rough ATV trail. It’s all incline on that road — it’s a doozie — and then they have to go down, which anybody who has knee problems knows is just as bad as up.”

All that is to say, the moment Wagner and other race officials saw an adult finisher breakdown with tears at the finish is very understandable.

“There was a gentleman that ran the full and he came across the line and he kind of crumpled and collapsed to the ground, and then he started crying and said, ‘I’m just so happy. So, so happy it’s over,’” said Wagner. “We kind of didn’t know what to do. … He got up and said, ‘OK, I’ve composed myself. I’m just so happy that it’s over.”

In the full marathon, 22 runners took part.

This year’s winner was Ian Weir, finishing with a time of two hours, 48 minutes and 42 seconds. In second place was Dominic Bradford who finished in three hours, two minutes and six seconds, and in third was Benjamin Houldridge with a time of three hours, 24 minutes and 36 seconds.

The winner of the 121-person half marathon run was Daniel Dreiseitl with a time of one hour, 24 minutes and 44 seconds — his third consecutive win. Second post belonged to Geoff Dunbrack who finished in one hour, 25 minutes and 40 seconds. In third was Harry Borlase with a time of one hour, 29 minutes and 53 seconds.

Rounding out the results was the half marathon walk with 19 people in the field. First to finish was John Storms with a time of two hours, 23 minutes and 43 seconds. In second place was Bonnie Love with a time of two hours, 37 minutes and 16 seconds, and third place was Donna Lambert with a time of three hours, six minutes and 17 seconds.

This year’s race will be the last one to use the docks as a start and finish line, as organizers are modifying the course to move the start to Seven Pastures — and out of the trademark headwinds.

Contact John Hopkins-Hill at john.hopkinshill@yukon-news.com

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