Participants in the inaugural Skagway Marathon take off from the starting line. Half-marathoner Teresa Wilson poses as she crosses the Skagway River Pedestrian Bridge. Jeff Brady
Quinn Weber wins first Skagway Marathon
By MARK ABADI
Quinn Weber set the bar high during Skagway’s inaugural marathon.
Despite running the second half alone, Weber tore through the 26.3-mile course along dusty Dyea Road and crossed the finish line in just more than three hours, almost an hour before his nearest competitor in the June 11 race.
Weber, a former track and cross country standout at Skagway High School, had never run a marathon before, but managed a 7-minute, 4-second mile pace on the chilly Saturday.
The second place finisher in the men's marathon, Steven Fox, came in after just more than 4 hours, 2 minutes.
Weber ran the first half of the race alongside Rodney Hulstein and Michael Richards, two runners from Whitehorse competing in the half marathon. Richards said he was surprised to see Weber keep pace with them up to Nahku Road, the turn-around point for the half-marathoners.
“Quinn went out so incredibly fast,” Richards said. “We knew it was going to be an impressive day for him.”
The marathon course extended from the ferry staging area on Broadway down Dyea Road to the end of West Creek Road, and included a brutal uphill stretch around the halfway point.
But Weber, who runs for the Colorado School of Mines, said the hills didn't faze him.
“I definitely do better on hilly courses than most,” he said. “For me it didn't really affect me. I run on those roads every day for training.”
Richards estimated on a more forgiving course, Weber’s time of 3:06:24 would easily have been less than three hours.
Mindy Miller, winner of the women’s marathon, makes her way up Dyea Road. Men’s marathon winner Quinn Weber receives a post-race leg massage from Michael Richards of Whitehorse. Mark Abadi
Weber’s stellar performance provided the highlight for Skagway’s first ever marathon, but the biggest surprise may have been simply how many people showed up to run. Forty-nine people ran in the full and half marathons, more than double the amount Skagway Tourism Director Buckwheat Donahue predicted would sign up.
The turnout was boosted by several runners who arrived to sign up just minutes before the race began, even though the deadline to sign up was the day before.
Jody Overduin, who drove from Whitehorse with five friends to run the half-marathon, said she heard about the race too late to send in her registration form, but decided to make the trip anyway.
“I said, ‘Well, what are the chances they’re not going to let us in?’” she said.
Two runners in Overduin's group, Jay Cherion and Jennifer Platz, finished first and second in the women's half-marathon. Hulstein and Richards took the top spots in the men’s half-marathon, and Mindy Miller finished first out of two in the women’s marathon.
“It’s a huge sense of accomplishment,” Miller said. “I never would have said in a billion years I would be running a marathon. It wasn't even on my bucket list.”
Michelle Pierce congratulates teammate Alex Bostic after he crosses the finish line at the 19th annual Kluane Chilkat International Bike Relay. Their team of Sockeye Cycle staff placed first among eight-person teams. Right, Jessica Medlin and her daughter Mina cheer on Skagway cyclists. Katie Emmets
Sockeye cyclists steal show at bike relay
By MARK ABADI
The rain held off just long enough for the more than 1,000 cyclists and record 273 teams at the 19th annual Kluane Chilkat International Bike Relay last weekend.
Aided by a slight tailwind, cyclists from Skagway improved their times from last year by more than an hour per team. During the relay, teams of one, two, four or eight cyclists pedaled 148 miles from Haines Junction, Yukon, to Haines, Alaska.
Leading the way for Skagway, a team of Sockeye Cycle staff finished first among the 93 eight-person teams with a time of 7 hours, 21 minutes, 14 seconds.
Like most of the teams participating, Sockeye hadn’t planned on seriously competing in the race, said Alex Bostic, who pedaled the final leg.
But after Ryan Rice finished the first leg with a 50-second lead, the team was inspired to maintain his pace.
“It’s actually kind of funny. We were all talking about going in and just having fun that day,” Bostic said. “Ryan took the first leg, and he came up in such a lead, we thought, wow, we’ve got some shoes to fill.”
They beat the next fastest eight-person team by almost 19 minutes.
Although less competitive, the other Skagway teams were proud of their performances, finishing more than an hour faster than last year’s group of Skagway teams.
As they did last year, four of the teams rode together throughout the race in a single-file line, drafting off one another by blocking the wind for those behind the leader.
The only hiccup came when, during the final leg of the race, Clayton Harris fell behind. The group he was drafting with — Aric Baldwin, John Briner and Spencer Morgan — didn’t notice he had slipped back until a few minutes later, when it was Harris’s turn to lead the pack.
The three remaining members pressed on and crossed the finish line together at around the 7-hour, 51-minute mark. Clayton finished about 18 minutes later.
“It was pretty unfortunate. I wish we had all been able to stay together,” Baldwin said.
“We just asked him how he did, how it was, and he was totally fine. We just wanted to make sure he was OK.”
Left, Cindy O’Daniel, Teresa Wilson, Jeff Neis and Spencer Morgan grind out the miles during leg five of the relay. A tailwind helped the cyclists improve on their times from last year by more than an hour. Katie Emmets Right, Aric Baldwin passes a beer to Spencer Morgan after the two crossed the finish line. Mark Abadi
The last Skagway team, Soft and Supple, defended its title by beating the only other eight-member all-men’s team in the race. The team finished in just more than 8 hours, 19 minutes.
The best overall finishers, a pair of two-man teams from Fairbanks, both finished the race in just less than 5 hours, 59 minutes.
Following the race, the thought of results and competition disappeared as the cyclists congregated around the finish line and began cracking open beers under a light drizzle. Over the next few hours, the ground dampened, and the field at the Fort Seward parade grounds became a sea of camping tents for those spending the night in Haines. The drinks continued flowing, sometimes out of kegs.
For first-time competitor Kyle Rosendale, a member of the Sockeye team, it was his first exposure to the cheerful and relaxed post-race atmosphere that keeps riders coming back to the annual relay.
“This is awesome,” Rosendale said shortly after his teammate crossed the finish line.
“There are more beers than waters going around right now.”
Team Skagnificent begins a 96-mile training run on the Yukon River last weekend. The team will be number 45 and can be followed during the race at www.yukonriverquest.com. Nancy Jones
River Quest riders ready for the water
By KATIE EMMETS
“The river is waiting, come rise up,” said Jeff Brady, captain of Team Skagnificent.
John Fogerty sang that, and it has been playing in Brady’s office for the last week along with every other song imaginable that has the word “river” anywhere in it, including “Take me to the River” by The Talking Heads, “River” by Joni Mitchell, “Down in the River to Pray,” by Alison Krauss and “River of Dreams” by Billy Joel.
Brady has been listening to these songs in preparation of the 2011 Yukon River Quest, and this year he is part of an eight-person voyager canoe team that will be representing Skagway.
Although there are no professionals on team, Brady said there is a lot of talent.
Eric Nelson and Dave Sevdy, both from Juneau, participated in the river quest multiple times and have paddled on a tandem team together.
Nelson will be at the boat’s bow, and Brady said he is a very good leader who is familiar with the river having now done the quest three times. Sevdy will be steering in the back of the boat and has done the quest solo twice.
“We went through the rapids at 2:30 a.m. last Sunday, and he was able to navigate us through it really well,” Brady said.
Molly Dischner, from Kenai, spent two summers in Skagway as a Skagway News intern and did the quest both years – once with a voyager canoe team and once on a tandem canoe team.
Brady, co-founder of the Yukon River Quest, has participated in the race twice, and one of those times was with his daughter Annie, who is also part of Team Skagnificent. The father-daughter duo raced in the 2005 river quest when Annie was 15 years old.
Brady said they both share a love of paddling.
“I’ve had her on the water since she was about 5,” Brady said. “She kind of approaches it just like me. It’s a fun sport, and we both love doing it.”
Teammate Bruce Schindler from Skagway did the race during its first year as the gold rush centennial re-creation Dyea to Dawson race.
“Bruce is a good accomplished paddler, and I’m glad he’s back in it,” Brady said.
Normally a kayaker, Skagway resident Denise Caposey attempted the race once before but did not finish because of what Brady said were harsh weather conditions.
“We are really happy to have her this year, and we want to get her to Dawson,” Brady said.
New to the Yukon River Quest and canoeing is Skagway’s Mike Healy.
“I got into a canoe for the first time ever in April when I started training with Bruce Schindler,” Healy said.
Since then, Healy has paddled in a canoe about 10 times, including one all night paddle with seven of the eight members of Team Skagnificent.
Along with paddle training, he has also been strengthening his core with P90X videos.
“I was surprised to find out that it’s not just shoulder strengthening for paddling, and that cross training is better,” he said adding that he has been running and will be doing a lot of yoga the week before the race.
What Healy will also be doing before the race is vacuum packing breakfast wraps.
“Every day I have a veggie breakfast wrap from the smoothie shop, so I’m vacuum packing those,” he said. “When we were doing that all-night paddle, I was thinking ‘wow, a veggie breakfast wrap would taste really good right now. That was at like 3 a.m.”
According to a YRQ release, Team Skagnificent is one of 73 teams that will be making the 460-mile journey from Whitehorse to Dawson City.
The team categories includes: solo canoe, solo kayak, tandem canoe, tandem kayak and voyager canoe.
The race begins Wednesday June 29 at noon when participants will run a short distance from the gazebo in Whitehorse’s Rotary Peace Park to the bank of the Yukon River and jump in their canoes and kayaks and start the long-distance trek.
Racers will paddle for about 200 miles before reaching Carmacks, the first of two mandatory checkpoints, where they are required to stay for 7 hours. They will then continue to paddle through Five Finger Rapids, past the historic First Nation site of Fort Selkirk and into Kirkman Creek.
After spending three hours at Kirkman Creek, the second mandatory checkpoint, there are only about 100 miles left until the finish line in Dawson City.
According to the release, the teams will finish between Friday afternoon and just before midnight on Saturday.
“Going into it, my goal was just to finish with a fast and happy crew,” Brady said. “That is the ultimate goal always, but after being on the water with them, I’m actually thinking a little higher.”
After two practice runs in their rented voyageur canoe, the longest of which was 96 miles, Brady said the team is looking a lot faster.
“We’re fast now, and we still have one more to throw in there,” he said, speaking of teammate Molly Dischner from Kenai. “And she is really good.”
Brady said his new goal is to finish the race in less than 55 hours and place in the voyager division, which has 11 total teams.
In order to win prize money, teams must complete the race in less than 55 hours and they will be disqualified if they don’t finish in 74 hours.
During the first-ever Yukon River Quest in 1999, Brady raced in a tandem canoe with his wife Dorothy.
“We set the record for the slowest time ever – 104 hours,” Brady said. “We were the reason they implemented a time limit.”
Six years later, Brady and his daughter shattered their family record by 40 hours, and he’s hoping for an even earlier Saturday arrival in Dawson so the team can get some rest before hitting the town that night.
The Skagway members of the team will have their 29-foot Clipper Langley voyageur in the water this weekend. Look for them in the small boat harbor early Friday evening, and again on Sunday, weather permitting. Or you can cheer them on at the start in Whitehorse next Wednesday.