Hail to the night runners

Only in the Yukon would we conceptualize a relay race where hundreds of people (when it first started) run along a highway through the night. Not to mention, we’ll decide to make all the race legs about a half marathon, so while you are battling the demands of your circadian rhythm to curl up into a ball and sleep, you are ignoring your body berating you for indulging one, or a dozen, too many times throughout the past year.

Thanks to Dan Lang, we can also now aspire to be inscribed on the Senator’s Cup, achieved by running all ten legs. The introduction of this award came as a bit of an exasperation to those of us who spent our first events running the same leg over and over again. (In my teens, I ran leg 10, three years in a row, which I now regret not having got a head start on multiple legs while I was fit.)

My completion of leg four during the 2017 Klondike Road Relay (KRR) marked the last time I “needed” to run in the middle of the night in my quest to complete all 10 legs. (I’m easing into my Senator’s Cup inscription with only legs two, three and seven left to run.) But that doesn’t mean that countless others are going to brave the cold and dark of running between midnight and six in the morning. That’s right, you poor souls who got asked to take on legs four, five or six by your team captain because you “look in shape, like you’ve been training.” Or you are the team captain and no one else would do it. Those legs are a special experience, a special club that you join.

To those of you just embarking on your first night run, or those needing a reminder of what you’ve got yourself into, I’ve got a sample of my thoughts that I shared with friends last year over the course of my run. I’m sure many of you can relate, because two hours running in the dark leaves lots of time for thinking.

Chronological thoughts from the KRR leg four:

  • This is great, I’m already done, I’ve visualized I’m there, so no problem.
  • Maybe I’ve trained more than I thought. This is going really well. Maybe I’ll finish ahead of my fast estimate!
  • My leg isn’t supposed to feel like that. That’s not good.
  • It was nothing, I’m fine. I could use some water now, where the heck is my support vehicle?
  • Hmmm, now my other leg hurts a bit, that’s my good leg. That’s really not good. It must be the road angle putting strain on it.
  • Do I need to pee? This isn’t good … never mind, I’m fine.
  • This hill seemed way shorter driving to my starting checkpoint.
  • OK, bobbing ponytail blowing past me, you have a good run too.
  • Great. My knees have decided to quit.
  • I wonder, If a bear came out of the woods and mauled me, would it hurt less than my legs do right now? Probably not, and that would be a legit excuse to bow out, right? I think I’d take that trade off.
  • The 1 km mark! Yes, I’m there!
  • This is not 1 km, you sadistic bastards—and why is it on a hill?
  • Ok, finish strong. Look like a runner in front of all these people.
  • You did not look like a runner finishing.

To those of you who are forgoing sleep on behalf of your teams, I salute you.

For more information on the KRR or the awards and dance, visit the website at http://www.klondikeroadrelay.com or find them on Facebook.

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