LEFT: John Doland and Spencer Morgan pedal fast along a stretch of highway in the Tour of Juneau. Charles Doland
RIGHT: Spencer Morgan leans into a turn during last weekend’s Tour of Juneau. Klas Stolpe, Juneau Empire
Skagway cyclists win divisions in Juneau, Yukon
By JEFF BRADY
Skagway cyclist Spencer Morgan won the final stage of the Tour of Juneau, a 52-mile road race held last Sunday on the Glacier Highway north of the city.
Morgan beat Juneau racer John Bursell by just one second in the last race of the weekend with a time of two hours, 20 minutes, 19 seconds.
Morgan said that after a Saturday filled with rain and miserable conditions, racers finally had some good weather at the start Sunday from the ferry terminal to Eagle Beach, but then faced head winds on the long run back to Auke Lake. After about 20 miles, Morgan was able to break away from the pack with eventual overall champ Casey Colton, who then fell back after blowing a tire. But along came Bursell, who caught up with Morgan, and the two racers traded turns at the lead, drafting each other in the final loops around the lake. Morgan nosed ahead during the sprint to the finish line.
“It was a good feeling,” Morgan said. “I’ve had a lot of second places, so this was worth it.”
Late last month, Morgan had finished in second place in the Southern Lakes Loppet up in the Yukon, his favorite race, a 173-kilometer (107 miles) event.
Morgan had top 10 finishes in all three major stages of the Tour of Juneau, but was not in the running for the overall title because he missed the opening time trial Saturday due to travel constraints. But organizers graciously gave him a time close to the final finisher so he would still be eligible.
Morgan had great praise for Skagway’s other racer, John Doland, who ended up placing fifth overall in the Tour of Juneau.
Like Morgan, Doland is fairly new to the sport and is already making an impact. Doland was part of a three-man Skagway team with Alex King and John Thomas that placed first in the 3-5 Men division in the Southern Lakes Bike Loppet.
In Juneau last weekend, Doland placed third in the prologue and hill climb races.
“John was right with the top guys on the hill climb,” Morgan said.
Colton and Bursell won that race in a tie, and Doland was 21 seconds behind them.
Doland may have finished higher than fifth overall, if not for a blown tire in the road race.
Morgan said both Skagway racers really took the sport seriously this year.
It showed in the results.
To see complete standings from the Tour of Juneau, visit cycleak.com/juneau-freewheelers.
Six Skagway teams registered for Klondike Road Relay
Local teams just out to have a good time
By KATIE EMMETS
Today (Aug 23) is the last day to sign up for the 31st Klondike Road Relay on September 6-7.
As of Wednesday, six Skagway teams including Alaska Excursions, Duff’s Backcountry Outfitters, Parkies & Sproketheads, Skagway Brewing Company, Skagway Pizza Station’s Team Snafu and WP&YR Highballers have registered.
The relay, which starts on Friday September 6, begins on Skagway’s 2nd Avenue and Broadway Street corner. The 110-mile race will take teams over mountain passes to the finish line in Whitehorse the following day.
This is the 17th year WP&YR Highballers is participating in the road relay, said captain Allyson Nannini.
This race is particularly exciting for the White Pass & Yukon Route railway team, as after crossing the finish line, team member Jeremy Simmons will have completed all ten legs. Though he has repeated legs a few years, Nannini said, this will be his first time running leg 10.
Nannini said the Highballers’ goal is for everyone to run their personal best times and have fun while doing it.
“We’re not in it to place high,” she said. “We usually place somewhere in the middle. We’re not an elite team, but we’re not at the bottom of the barrel either.”
The Highballers will have 11 runners, two of which will be splitting one leg.
This is the first time in about five years the team has been comprised of all White Pass & Yukon Route employees, Nannini said.
Because a lot of the runners that work for White Pass are college students, most of them leave before the road relay to return to school and the team has had to recruit outside of the company.
As the captain, Nannini does not run the race because she is in charge of the organizing.
“Team captains rotate about every four or five years,” she said, adding that she has held the position for the last five years. “I put the team together and run the support group.”
Nannini said being a part of the Highballers support group means going all out.
“We have signs and we decorate the White Pass van,” she said. “And we bring a megaphone and cheer them on.”
Mindy Miller, captain of Duff’s Back Country Outfitters, said her team runs to have a fun bonding experience between co-workers and friends.
“Now we won’t just be complaining over tourists,” she said with a laugh. “We’ll be complaining over our sore shin splints.”
This year, the ten-person team consists mostly of employees from Duff’s, Klothes Rush, Kone Kompany, and Radio Shack, which are all owned by Duff and Karla Ray.
Becky Jensen, who normally participates in the relay with Skagway’s walking teams, will be running for Duff’s Backcountry Outfitters for the second year in a row.
Jensen is running leg two of the relay, which is mostly uphill, and has been preparing by running and hiking a lot of trails.
On August 4, she was the top woman in the half marathon walking division of the Yukon Trail Marathon with a time of 03:15:33.
“I love the Road Relay,” she said. “And I’m ready to run.”
Walking team captain Dottie Demark said there is a possibility of one or two walking teams from Skagway competing in September’s relay.
The running teams leave in starts every half hour from 6 to 11 p.m. on Sept. 6.
The walking teams will start in Carcross at 4 a.m. local time (3 a.m. Alaska time).
Teams who still want to register can do so before 11 p.m. Alaska time Aug. 23 at the official KRR web site: https://www.klondikeroadrelay.com - watch for results there on Sept. 7 and coverage in the Sept. 13 Skagway News.
Members of the Skagway School cross-country running teams pose in front of the school before a practice run on the Dyea Road this week. In front are girls Reyanne Carlson, Madison Cox, Al Weber, Taylor Carlson, Hailey Jensen, Rebecca Hollander, Jessica Whitehead, and Dainean Teeluk; boys in the back row are Micah Cook, Wyatt Belisle, Colton Belisle, Donovan Henson, Ethan Goebel, Dominique Foote, coach Kent Fielding, and Alex Ackerman. Jeff Brady
Cross-country season underway
First meet in Haines on Sept. 7
Skagway High School’s cross-country running team has been hitting the local roads this month in preparation for a month of meets in September.
All will be on the road starting with a meet in Haines on Saturday, Sept. 7.
Veteran SHS coach Kent Fielding is pleased with the turnout.
“We have six boys and four girls in high school running and five j-high runners,” he said. “We're young – six freshmen, three sophomores and one senior. This (team’s) youth makes it hard to predict where we'll fall as a team or even as individual runners, but it's good to have a full boys' team.”
Last year Fielding had just three high school runners.
There is no home race this year. After Haines, the high school team travels to Wrangell Sept. 14, Juneau Sept. 21, and Sitka for regionals on Sept. 28. State meet is at Bartlett High School in Anchorage on Oct. 5.
The junior high team will run in a meet in Juneau on Sept. 19. – JB
Two adventure athletes take on Challenge
Zalit, Wright will attempt to break local trails record set by Ben Seale
Andy Zalit and Seth Wright will try to break athlete, Ben Seale’s (Man of Steel) record of completing all 12 trails of the Duff’s Trail Challenge in one weekend. The challenge is typically an objective to hike the 12 trails (85 miles) in one summer. Conversely, record breaker Ben Seale completed it in one weekend in 2011, and a new tone for the challenge had been set, according to a press release.
This year, Duff’s Backcountry Outfitters will be sponsoring the new athletes, fueling them with assorted energy items. With help from GOPRO, Zalit and Wright will be monitoring each others’ progression throughout the grueling, aggressive Alaskan terrain while testing out gear supplied by Columbia Sportswear.
Zalit, a three-time marathon runner who has grown weary of running on pavement decided to take up a new type of terrain--the trail. This challenge was a perfect motivation. He is ambitious to finish the complete challenge while being cautious and realistic about his expectations and will take it as it comes. His drive to complete something this extreme is backed up by the feeling it gives him-- a sense of “being alive,” he said in a statement.
Wright, born with competitive blood and a wrestler since age 4, says he will finish the challenge even if he has to crawl. He has less background with running than Andy, but has a similar motivation with what the trail has to offer.
“I have never really liked running,” he said, “but I’m always looking for something to challenge myself with.”
He heard about Seale’s record and told himself, “I’m going to beat that.”
His family has caught on to the thrill of the challenge and Seth’s older brother, Josh, a weekly triathlon competitor, is flying in to compete for fun. Their mother will be in Skagway to root them both on.
Wright began his quest on Wednesday, while Andy began his challenge on Thursday. Their work schedules are different, but the goal for these two new men of steel is to complete all of the 12 trails by Saturday.
“This is not something we do regularly, but when we have a unique athlete out there that is up for the challenge, we want to support and encourage them to take it to the next level.” -Kristin Wagner, manager of Duff’s and advocate of the trail challenge.
The Duff’s Trail Challenge has become a recognizable summer goal throughout the town of Skagway since 2010. This year’s competitors are taking the challenge to a new level, she said, and Duff’s is happy to be involved and continue supporting like-minded athletes for years to come.