Blasting Off

WP&YR Steam Engine 73 blasts off a group of runners from Broadway. Jeff Brady photo

Bears join runners for 25th relay

The 25th annual Klondike Trail of ‘98 International Road Relay began with the usual steam engine whistles and shouts of encouragement at the starting line.
The music was different this year. The classic rock of old was replaced with a techno pop sound that kept all ages pumped, even the non-runners.
The only unusual announcement came about an hour into the race, when starter Buckwheat Donahue let everyone know that “a bear has been reported chasing runners, so be on the lookout.... All riiiiight, this is Alaska!”
Stage One runner Liz Ruff of the WP&YR Highballers said she could definitely “smell the bear” as she started up the hill just past the Schaefer house.
“I could smell it, so I just stopped for a second and shouted ‘Hey bear! Hey bear! and kept going.”
There were two other bear reports, including a grizzly on Stage Two.
“I was doing Leg 2 and it was really misty,” explained Eagle River resident Kevin Slayden, a member of Team Chicken Run, in an interview with the Whitehorse Star. “I was rocking out to my iPod and when I got over the bridge, some motor homes passed me. One of them stopped and came back.
“I thought he asked, ‘Do you want a beer?’, so I said, ‘No, I’m good.’ It turned out it wasn’t a beer he was talking about, but a bear. I didn’t find that out until about 10 minutes later.”
The grizzly bear spent a portion of the leg running beside Slayden and wasn’t being harmful. It appeared as if he just wanted to run and play, said Slayden, who was alerted to the bear by a fellow competitor who ran past him.
“At one point, I stumbled and I felt his whisker on my thigh. I could feel his breath. After that, I was gone. I ran faster than I’ve ever run,” he told the Star.
Local police were summoned to the scene, but reported it was too foggy to see anything.
“Rick (Officer Ackerman) said a bear could have been eating someone on the roadside and you would not have seen it,” said Skagway Police Chief Ray Leggett.
All but a few of the 132 teams made it to Whitehorse in good shape, including four teams from Skagway. Local results appear below:

Liz Ruff gets in a stretch next to engineer Dave Hunz before the start.

Relay results

Place and time per category

6th. WP & YR Highballers X 15:56:30 (28th overall)
38th. Team Snafu 17:42:23 (78th overall)
4th Walk Won’t Run 10:17:01
5th Skagway Windwalkers 10:17:01

Skagway participants - Top 3 in category
Leg 5 Women
3rd Sarah Gahagan, WP & YR Highballers X 01:48:43
Leg 2 Men
3rd Ben Seale, WP & YR Highballers X 00:46:27
Leg 7 Walkers
3rd Becky Jensen, Skagway Windwalkers 02:00:09

Skagway walkers Niki Hahn, Becky Jensen, Dottie Demark and Denise Caposey get ready for the 3 a.m. start. - Paul Getson, Whitehorse Star

Local individual times by Leg
(walkers competed in Legs 7-10 only)
Leg 1
Elizabeth Ruff (WP&YR), 01:19:55; Mary Riendeau (SNAFU) 01:23:01.
Leg 2
Ben Seale (WP&YR) 00:46:27; Josh Hendershot (SNAFU) 01:03:01.
Leg 3
Keith Nelson (WP&YR) 01:09:20; Bubba Sager (SNAFU) 01:26:07.
Leg 4
Shanna Vetter (WP&YR) 01:44:03; Shakey Smith (SNAFU) 02:30:50.
Leg 5
Sarah Gahagan (WP&YR) 01:48:43; Courtney Wilson (SNAFU) 02:31:58.
Leg 6
Katie-Dibbs Winslow (SNAFU) 02:05:12; Amanda Jensen (WP&YR) 02:24:20.
Leg 7
John Briner (WP&YR) 01:28:20; Cindy O’Daniel (SNAFU) 01:38:47; Becky Jensen (SWW) 02:00:09; Niki Hahn (WWR) 02:00:10.
Leg 8
Jeremy Simmons (WP&YR) 01:38:43; Moe O’Daniel (SNAFU) 01:52:49; Denise Caposey (WWR) 02:59:07; Nan Saldi(SWW) 02:59:08.
Leg 9
Mike Moe (SNAFU) 01:28:07; John Thomas (WP&YR) 01:42:03; Dottie DeMark (SWW) 02:33:08; Ruthie Knight (WWR) 02:34:05.
Leg 10
John O’Daniel (SNAFU) 01:42:31; Matt Russell (WP&YR) 01:54:36; Cara Cosgrove (WWR) 02:43:39; Kathy Wassman (SWW) 02:44:36.

If you have a problem with your times, deal with these guys – Race director Trevor Twardacleb and Skagway starter Buckwheat Donahue synchonize their watches before the start. - JB