Ben Seale embraces his daughter after running the six Dewey Lake system trails in nine hours. Becky Jensen finished alongside Seale.
Seale conquers 85-mile trail challenge in a weekend
By MARK ABADI
The man dubbed Skagway's "man of steel" showed his mettle this month.
By running all 12 of Skagway's trails, including the 33-mile Chilkoot, in just two and a half days, Ben Seale completed Duff's Backcountry Outfitters' Trail Challenge in record time.
Saving the Chilkoot for last, Seale finished the challenge at around 8 p.m. Sunday, July 31, to a small crowd of friends and family cheering him on.
Seale ran alongside family friend Amanda Jensen during the Chilkoot run, which at 12 hours took slightly longer than Seale expected. But after two days of strenuous activity, Seale said he wanted to enjoy his final trail.
"We were stopping and getting some video, pictures and stuff. It was Amanda's first time, so I wanted her to have a good time on it," Seale said.
Created last year, Duff's Trail Challenge tasks residents with hiking each of the Skagway area's trails in a single summer. Hikers who successfully complete the challenge receive a prize package from the outdoor apparel store.
Before Seale, no one had ever completed the 85-mile challenge in a single weekend.
"I think it's an awesome feat to take on. I completed the trail challenge last year and I thought it was hard to do it just in the summer," said Becky Jensen, who joined Seale atop AB Mountain and ran two hours behind him on the Chilkoot. Friends accompanied Seale on several trails.
Duff's made Seale's marathon weekend easier by providing him with equipment for the trails, including shoes, a hydration backpack and a quick-dry shirt that read "Ben Seale — Man of Steel" on the left arm.
Seale kicked off the weekend by running the AB Mountain and Smuggler's Cove trails on July 29. He checked off the Denver and Laughton glacier trails the following morning, and by evening had completed the trails to Lower Dewey Lake, Sturgill's Landing, Upper Dewey Lake, Devil's Punchbowl, Icy Lake and Upper Reid Falls.
Originally scheduled to run his last two trails — the Chilkoot and Lost Lake — on Sunday, Seale said he felt fresh enough to grind another one out Saturday night, so he headed to Lost Lake in Dyea.
"I thought it would be nice to get it done before I had the Chilkoot," Seale said. "I still felt good at that point. All along I felt really good as far as muscles and everything."
Fans could check on Seale's progress on Duff's Facebook page, where staff provided updates and photographs of the runner throughout the weekend.
Duff's owner Kristin Wagner said since Seale's accomplishment, she's heard people talk about heading for the trails to complete their own challenges.
"I've definitely heard a lot more chatter about the Trail Challenge," Wagner said. "I think it inspired people. It inspired me."
Besides getting feedback on her products, Wagner said she wants to talk with Seale so they can brainstorm ways to publicize the challenge. About ten people completed the challenge in its first year, and this summer's figure will be significantly higher, she said.
Seale said he hopes his example will promote fitness in Skagway, but above all, promote hiking among those who say there's nothing to do in Skagway.
"I think that's such a falsehood. Skagway has so much to offer, and these trails are a huge part of how beautiful it is. You have to get up on them to see how great it is here," he said.
"I hope it really makes people want to get out and do it. And just challenge themselves."
John Thomas hands Spencer Morgan a water bottle during the last leg of the Southern Lakes Bike Loppet in the Yukon last weekend. Seven Skagway teams participated. Results were to be posted by the end of the week at http://www.mountlorne.yk.net
Vince Fedoroff, Whitehorse Star
Four locals run Yukon marathon
For four Skagway runners, placing high was not a priority earlier this month.
So although it took Jed Greenstreet, John O’Daniel, Becky Jensen and Teresa Wilson more than 4 hours, 30 minutes to collectively run a marathon on Saturday Aug. 6, they weren’t disappointed.
“We were just pleased to be able to do it, just to finish,” O’Daniel said.
The runners, going by the team name Trail Turtles, finished 25th out of 28 mixed relay teams at the Yukon River Trail Marathon in Whitehorse.
They were the only Skagway residents to participate in the annual marathon.
Only about a month before the race, Wilson and O’Daniel were scrambling for two other teammates, and were one of the last teams to sign up, Wilson said. O’Daniel, who is Wilson’s brother, said the roster wasn’t solidified until just a week before the relay.
Saturday marked O’Daniel’s tenth year running in the marathon. This time, he said he focused on the scenery and enjoying the day with his teammates.
“It’s not about placement. It’s about participation,” O’Daniel said. “Our whole thing to do this is to force us to stay in shape, or to get in some form of shape,” he said.
Alaskans took the top two spots in the men’s marathon, with Matias Saari of Anchorage and Mike Kramer of Fairbanks finishing first and second. Whitehorse resident Mike Richards, who finished second in Skagway’s inaugural half marathon in June, took third place Saturday. – MA