THIRTY YEARS RUNNING – Mike Tranel of Skagway, center wearing bib 851, leads runners from the starting line in Skagway on Sept. 7. More than 140 teams participated in the 30th annual Klondike Road Relay.

Soggy, Slushy, Sunny

Eleven Skagway teams participate in 30th road relay

With rain, snow, stars and fall colors, the 30th Klondike Trail of ’98 International Road Relay saw 11 Skagway teams participating in the overnight 110-mile race.
Mixed team Beach Combing 4 Lumber was the fastest Skagway running team and placed 30th overall with a time of 16:24:24. Corporate team Parkies and Sproketheads placed 38th with a time of 16:46:18. The Pizza Station’s mixed division Team Snafu placed 48th with a time of 17:10:19. Mixed division team Skagway Brewing Company placed 58th with a time of 17:23:33. Corporate team Duff’s Backcountry Outfitters placed 75th with a time of 17:48:22. Mixed WP&YR Highballers placed 78th with a time of 17:55:28. Mixed team Westmark Wombat was 101st in 18:47:59. Corporate division team Alaska Excursions placed 113th with a time of 19:30:38.
Skagway also had three walking teams this year. Marlene McClusky captained Viking Hooligans, which placed fourth with a time of 09:57:36.
Soled Out placed fifth with a time of 09:58:23 and Art & Sole placed 12th with a time of 10:45:05. Dottie Demark captained both Soled Out and Art & Sole.
Captain Mike Tranel of Parkies and Sproketheads, which got its name from its park employee and bicycle enthusiast members, ran the first leg last year and said he wanted to do it again to see if he could beat his time.
But he didn’t just run the first leg, he ran the last leg, too.
Tranel started the race for his team at 2nd Avenue and Broadway Street and ended it by crossing the finish line at Rotary Peace Park in Whitehorse.
“There’s not a lot of sleeping,” he said. “But you get enough rest between legs to handle the 12.1 miles at the end.”
With the 8.8-mile leg at the start and a 12.1-mile let at the finish, Tranel ran 20.9 of the 110 miles to the Yukon’s capital city.
Despite this year’s soggy start, Tranel was able to reach his goal of beating last year’s time of 1 hour and 24 minutes by knocking off four minutes for a time of 1 hour and 20 minutes.
Tranel said the wet weather caused fresh snow at the pass, and those who were running legs two and three had to run in the middle of the road to avoid the couple of inches of slush on the shoulders.
By the time Parkies and Sproketheads reached legs five and six, the clouds started to break up, and runners were able to see the stars and a late moonrise.
“And it was a beautiful dawn,” Tranel said. “There were lots of fall colors in the Yukon with fresh snow on the mountain tops – great scenery for those who ran legs seven and eight. ”
Tranel said he especially enjoyed the experience because his 23-year-old daughter, Kelsey, was able to come from Anchorage to run the race with him.
Tranel said Kelsey participates in a lot of bicycle races and triathlons, and added that he and Kelsey run in the Mount Marathon race in Seward every July.
The Skagway Brewing Company, team number 72, was the 72nd team to cross the finish line on Saturday afternoon.
This was the fourth relay competition for the Brew Co., and captain Mike Healy said this was its best year yet.
“Maybe we didn’t beat our past overall times,” he said. “But this year, our only goal was for everyone to finish their legs, and we accomplished that.”
Healy said the Brew Co. has never had a year where all of its members completed their legs, adding that there was always a mile or two that needed to be filled in.
But the Brew Co. almost didn’t have a team to finish its legs in this year’s race.
“We’ve never had a cancellation before, and this year we had four with two people canceling the day before the race,” he said. “It was a little hairy at times, but we made it.”
Healy said he had to convince Joe Stephenson to run leg one and Mark Lohnes to run leg two.
“Mark hadn’t run at all this summer and he did really well,” Healy said. “And Joe ran a little bit, and he did great.”
Healy, who ran leg eight, said he wasn’t as prepared as he had been in years past but that he still did well.
“I placed higher this year than I’ve ever placed, so maybe everyone else wasn’t as prepared either?” he said with a laugh.


Left, John Dennison of the Westmark Wombat team, gets a drink from a supporter on colorful leg nine. Right, Highballer Riley Hart finishes with the WP&YR banner.

Left, SNAFU’s Courtney Mason scoots after her tag by Alanna Lawson. Right, Art of Sole walker Dottie Demark is unfazed by the passing WP&YR pickup.

Left, Duff's runner Sayre Creighton gets a drink at the stage 10 cutoff to Mile Canyon. Right, two runners run with the SPD headlights in the rain in Skagway.

The Brew Co. team strikes a strongman pose with their race shirts.