Running from Skagway to Whitehorse

The first year I ran in The Klondike Trail of ’98 International Road Relay, I was one of a group of women who were all pretty much new to running. In fact, we had only started running the previous April. We met during a beginners running clinic set up to prepare people to run the 5 km Run For Mom. We had such a good time and were so proud of ourselves for successfully completing the 5 km run that, at the end of it, we made a pact to take on the Trail of ’98 Road Relay. We ran all summer and again got to celebrate as we completed the relay on Team Run For Mom.

I am in awe of long distance runners. The amount of regular training needed to run the kind of distances covered in the relay is a real commitment. The Klondike Trail of ’98 International Road Relay is made up of 10 legs ranging in distance from 9 km to 25.6 km. It starts in Skagway, Alaska, at sea level, and over the first 2 legs it climbs to an elevation of 1,004 metres (3,263 feet). From there, it descends to approximately 610 metres and its finish line in Whitehorse.

I have to admit that my commitment to running was never serious enough to do any of the longer legs. That’s not the case for Caitlin Hinton, a 26-year-old runner in this year’s race, who is originally from Nelson, B.C. It was Hinton’s first time running in the Trail of ’98 last year, and she took on the 19.8 km leg between Emerald Lake and the Annie Lake Road.

“With 20 km, you get tricked – I didn’t realize it was almost a half marathon ’till after it was over,” she says.

This year she will be running with a group of friends, and friends of friends, calling themselves Running Without A Room. She is purposefully going for the half marathon this time by tackling the 22.2 km of Leg 5, Tutshi Lake to the B.C./Yukon border. Hinton is a little nervous about running during the middle of the night.

“But it’s been done before, so I should be able to do it,” she says.

The first runners will set off at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 6 (which is 6 p.m. Skagway-time). The race will proceed throughout the night, with the Walker, Ultra and Youth categories starting from Carcross at 4 a.m. and 4:30 a.m. The finish line in Whitehorse closes at 3 p.m., then everyone cleans up for the awards ceremony and dance at 7 p.m. at the Whitehorse Curling Club.

If you want to come on out and cheer on the finishers, the finish line is at Rotary Peace Park and the first runners could be arriving as early as 7 a.m. or 8 a.m.

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