Anyone who has taken part in competitive cycling or running in the Yukon, in these past 20 years or so, has most likely experienced the typical post-race symptoms of excessive sweating, agonizing pain, rewarding sense of accomplishment and that one burning question: “Who is that woman?”
Described by many as “The Welcoming Face at the End of the Race”, Marg White has been tracking race times in the Yukon since 1986.
From the Klondike Road Relay in Whitehorse to the Dome Race in Dawson City, the long-time Yukoner has spent countless hours at finish lines armed with a stopwatch and smile.
White, herself, can’t help but chuckle when she tries to think of places in the Yukon where she hasn’t volunteered her time.
“I still get a kick out of it,” said White. “Sure, there are some days when it is pouring rain and you don’t really want to go, but you know there will always be someone out there depending on you.”
White’s winters are equally busy as she spends most of her evenings and weekends at the curling rink. As the Yukon Curling Association’s former head official, with Level 4 certification, White’s knowledge of the game is regularly called upon both around town and across the country.
“I enjoy people, I guess that’s where the involvement starts,” White explains. “It’s part of my life. Last weekend I had nothing scheduled and it was sort of like, what am I missing?”
Over the years, White has built quite a reputation for being a perfectionist when it comes to recording race times … although she’s quick to point out that wasn’t always the case.
“One of my first road relays, I was along for support and I didn’t know what the hell I was doing,” said White. “I remember telling runners they had three kilometers left, when it was actually six. I didn’t know distances or anything.
“I got swore at a lot in those days.”
There was also an incident during a triathlon in the eighties that required White to display her improvisational skills. She had volunteered to time the swimming portion of the competition. Unfortunately, the swimmers forgot to use permanent markers to write their race numbers on their bathing caps. By the time they crossed the finish line their ID numbers had washed off.
“We just threw our papers away and made up the times,” explained White, with a laugh. “No one complained or seemed to notice.”
Even if the swimmers had realized, it would have been hard for them to hold a grudge.
White and her husband, Don, have opened their home regularly to athletes, both on the short-term and longer basis. White remembers one weekend when two full teams of young Haines Junction hockey players slept on her floor.
“They needed a place and asked the question and we had the space,” said White. “So why not?”
That caring attitude and willingness to dedicate countless hours to sport was recognized last fall when White and her husband were inducted into the Sport Yukon Hall of Fame.
“I guess I just haven’t learned to say ‘No’,” said White. “Some day, maybe I will.”
Meanwhile, White will continue smiling, officiating and tracking times at Yukon finish lines.