Jeanine Masciola is jazzed at the start of her leg before hitting the hills. JB

Relay ushers in Skagway youth movement

Here’s the latest fashion in extreme relays: The kids strap on the sneakers.
This year’s ever-masochistic Klondike Trail of ‘98 International Road Relay on Sept. 9 and 10 featured some of the youngest runners in town.
With five people under 15 years old running parts or all of the legs, Team S.N.A.F.U., sponsored by the Pizza Station, was ever on the cutting edge of running trends for the relay from Skagway to Whitehorse.
“Our team — none of the members ever trained — it was all for the party,” said Beth Smith, who has been involved with the team for the past six years.
Those days, drinking beer and smoking before, after and in some cases during legs was the fashion.
But with team members growing older, some of their children have been eager to carry the baton, Smith said.
Gatorade has once again returned as the energy drink of choice.
It was the drink Ethan Moe, 12, guzzled when he finished running part of Leg 8. Ethan has been running with his dad and sisters in the Yukon River Trail Marathon in Whitehorse for years.
“We like to run as more of a family thing,” Mike Moe said. “The kids have grown up doing it. It started when they were 5.”
As if the team heard that they would be upstaged, Dead Salmon Heads recruited Moe’s sisters Delani and Cassie at about 10 p.m. — on the night of the race. Mike Moe said the move was more one of desperation by one of the Dead Salmon Heads’ organizers, Mike Catsi.
“If we could title Mike’s evening of getting a team together, it would be: ‘Mike Catsi and a series of unfortunate events,’” Mike Moe said.
Catsi said he didn’t confirm the girls’ participation until his teammates were starting on Leg Four of the race. Cassie, 14, and Delani, 10, rallied and each ran about half of Leg Nine.
“The organization, this year, kind of fell apart,” Catsi said.
The team bus “Ruby” broke down and could not be a part of the festivities, runners were late for their legs and black flies swarmed around runners at the hand off between Leg Nine and Ten —but that was true for most of the relay teams.
Despite the impending catastrophe, the team managed to complete the relay in less than 17 hours – a major goal. Penalty points put the team over the 17-hour mark, but Catsi said he’s not worried about that.
“We got more penalty points than any other team in the competition. We’re very proud of that,” he said. “Our motto is: There’s nothing to be gained by winning.”
That is, except for when it comes to their Leg Two runner Philip Clark, who beat out all other runners for the second time this year. Clark was the fastest runner in the notoriously hilly leg this year.
But Clark shrugged off his success. He started running on a college cross-country team more than 10 years ago and was average back then, he said. He just hasn’t been able to quit. On a semi-regular basis he runs to Lower Dewey Lake and back.
“If running can be considered a sport, I’m a runner,” he said. “I actually know fast runners and I’m not them.”
Last year, he won Leg Nine, which he said was a complete mystery to him.
“Last year, it was this awesome team, this party team,” he said. “They were giving me beer for rest breaks... I’ll never do that again.”
Team S.N.A.F.U.’s Leg One was also a throwback to earlier days. Deb “Pop-n-Chop” Potter started off the race wearing a tiara and a sweat band on her head, and had a Red Onion madam in heels running at her side for about a block of Broadway. Potter stopped into Moe’s Frontier Bar for a shot of liquor before continuing the rest of the nearly nine mile leg. Potter said she was worried people would consider her a “serious runner.”
But the party team was all last year’s thing.
“This year was definitely tamer,” Smith said. “We usually meet back at the Pizza Station and celebrate, and that didn’t really happen.”
Smith’s own ability to “celebrate” would have been tempered anyway due to the fact that she is six months pregnant with her first child.
“The highlight was definitely having the kids on the team,” she said. “It would be great 20 years from now to have S.N.A.F.U., the kids could carry it on— the next generation.”
Amanda Jensen, 13, could certainly be a part of this “next generation.” She competed in a cross-country competition at Skagway School on Sept. 9 and then proceeded to run 8.8 miles for Leg Three of the relay at about 9:30 p.m. that same night — when she usually would be going to bed. Jensen had the fastest time of all the Skagway runners in Leg Three.
Her cross-country teammates Paige Hahn, Kaylie O’Daniel and Kaitlyn Surdyk split the nearly nine-mile Leg Seven.
Amanda’s mother Becky Jensen said she did have her reservations about the rowdy reputation of the team.
“I’m not sure if they were on the right team,” she said.
But since Becky and her husband Rod Jensen drove the support car for all four of the girls, there was little opportunity to spike the Gatorade. The family went to bed at about 11 p.m. and was up at 3 a.m. to drive the other three girls to their relay start in Carcross, Y.T.
The only drawback to running as a youngster? The relay T-shirts are too big, Becky Jensen said.
“Rod and I could wear them,” Becky Jensen said. “But we didn’t do anything, except stay in the car and keep warm and not get eaten by the bugs.”

With one new team and several partial efforts, Skagway added several new runners to the race this year. Top Gun, which was organized by Princess driver John Escher, but included runners from White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad, Packer Expeditions and even the Skagway Chamber of Commerce. Escher, who ran the 16-mile Leg Six, said he only started running in May. After running a half marathon in Whitehorse this summer, he wanted to create a team for the relay. Many of his teammates had never run the distance of the legs they signed up for.
“It was a lot of firsts,” he said. “That was pretty common throughout the whole team.”
Other teams that featured Skagway runners were Sucker Punch, a combination of Skagway and Anchorage runners, and the Slackmasters, which features Haines and Skagway runners. And old standard White Pass and Yukon Route Highballers posted Skagway’s best team time with a bunch of sourdoughs. Everyone on the team had run for the Highballers in the past – many had run the race several times before, team organizer Jeremy Simmons said.
Anchor John Briner was the first Skagway runner to cross the finish line, his forehead looking more like a windshield with all the bugs that got in his way.

Here's a listing of team winners by category and individual Skagway times. For complete results, got to:

23rd annual Klondike Trail of '98 International Road Relay category winners

Open- Take No Prisoners, Anchorage, 10:56:00
Women- Hard Women Are Good To Find, Juneau, 15:04:44
Mixed - Vestigial Appendages, Juneau, 12:35:00
Masters Open -Smokin’ Ole Geezers, Juneau, 12:32:06
Masters Women - Lady Gudiva, Douglas, 13:20:05
Masters Mixed - Peak Performers I, Anchorage, 12:19:10
Walkers - Chocolate Claim Walking Nutbar, Whitehorse, 9:09:19
Corporate - Skinny Raven Sports, Anchorage, 14:17:40

Place of teams with Skagway runners (all teams are Mixed)

18 Slackmasters, 15:45:40
20 WP & YR Highballers, 15:58:30
46 Dead Salmon Heads, 17:11:52
51 Team S.N.A.F.U., 17:35:58
52 Top Gun, 17:37:28
59 Sucker Punch, 18:02:56

Top Gun’s Shanna Vetter and Highballer Josh Gatherum stretch before the start in Skagway.

Skagway teams
Leg One, 8.8 miles:
Place*** Team *** Runner *** Time **Pace
6 Top Gun, Shanna Vetter, 1:17:36 0:08:49
20 Sucker Punch, Karen Hack, 1:24:51 0:09:38
31 Slackmasters, Skyla Hamilton, 1:32:33 0:10:31
57 Team S.N.A.F.U., Deb “Pop-n-Chop” Potter, 1:46:17 0:12:04

17 Dead Salmon Heads, Jeremy Butzlaff, 1:11:21 0:08:06
45 WP & YR Highballers, Joshua Gatherum, 1:23:59 0:09:32

Leg two, 5.8 miles
19 Team S.N.A.F.U., Cassandra Simpson, 1:00:16 0:10:45

1 Dead Salmon Heads, Philip Clark, 0:41:32 0:07:25
14 Slackmasters, Sam Steensland, 0:48:51 0:08:43
58 WP & YR Highballers, Adam Baldwin, 1:07:55 0:12:07
65 Top Gun, Jacob Loya, 1:11:22 0:12:44

Curt Dodd is cheered on by teammates.

Leg three, 7.6 miles
18 Team S.N.A.F.U., Amanda Jensen, 1:05:48 0:08:26
55 Top Gun, Lisa Robinson, 1:17:34 0:09:56
76 Dead Salmon Heads, Nan Saldi, 1:27:17 0:11:11
82 Slackmasters, Rebecca Hylton, 1:33:02 0:11:55

*22 WP & YR Highballers, Jeremy Simmons, 1:10:00 0:08:58

Leg four, 13.3 miles
14 WP & YR Highballers, Heather Seale, 1:47:26
*27 Slackmasters, Eliza Lende, 1:54:59 0:08:46
40 Top Gun, Denise Hill, 2:05:32 0:09:34

22 Dead Salmon Heads, Peter Lucchetti, 1:44:02 0:07:56
35 Team S.N.A.F.U., Mike Moe, 1:54:08 0:08:42

Leg five, 14 miles
28 Sucker Punch, Anna Stumpf, 2:07:20 0:09:09
42 Top Gun, Valerie Jensen, 2:18:15 0:09:56

21 WP & YR Highballers, Benjamin Seale, 1:42:35 0:07:22
37 Team S.N.A.F.U., John O’Daniel, 1:55:29 0:08:18
45 Dead Salmon Heads, Mike Catsi, 2:00:42 0:08:41
*48 Slackmasters, Calvin Roskam, 2:02:01 0:08:46

Leg six, 16 miles
27 WP & YR Highballers, Karen McDonald and Toby Broemmeling, 2:22:38 0:08:54

*16 Slackmasters, Liam Cassidy, 1:56:06 0:07:15
29 Sucker Punch, Eric Coufol, 2:01:36 0:07:36
48 Dead Salmon Heads, Mike Rehm, 2:19:07 0:08:41
72 Top Gun, John Escher, 2:57:48 0:11:06
76 Team S.N.A.F.U., “Flash” Rod Fairbanks, 3:09:25 0:11:50

John Briner shows off his bug kills on his forehead at the finish line.

Leg seven, 8.8 miles
4 Holiday Road, Jennifer Collins, 1:07:40 0:07:41
12 Team S.N.A.F.U., Kaylie O’Daniel, Kaitlyn Surdyk, Paige Hahn, 1:18:11 0:08:53
30 WP & YR Highballers, Elizabeth Ruff, 1:22:50 0:09:24
44 Sucker Punch, Kelly Hampton, 1:26:50 0:09:52
61 Dead Salmon Heads, Julene Fairbanks, 1:37:04 0:11:01

16 Top Gun, Derek Sather, 1:11:21 0:08:06
22 Slackmasters, Chris Hendricks, 1:14:22 0:08:27

Leg eight, 12.3 miles
36 Top Gun, Jeanine Masciola, 1:56:18 0:09:22
55 Dead Salmon Heads, Philip Clark and Julene Fairbanks, 2:13:04 0:10:43

13 Slackmasters, Chip Lende, 1:29:33 0:07:13
48 Team S.N.A.F.U., Ethan Moe and Alanna Rowe, 1:53:13 0:09:07
49 WP & YR Highballers, Matt Russell, 1:53:29 0:09:09

Leg nine, 11.1 miles
26 Top Gun, Lindsey Weed, 1:35:58 0:08:43
*29 Slackmasters, Deborah Zmistowski, 1:36:13 0:08:44
71 Dead Salmon Heads, Cassie and Delanie Moe, 2:04:12 0:11:17

10 WP & YR Highballers, Curt Dodd, 1:17:57 0:07:05
46 Team S.N.A.F.U., Kyle Fairbanks, 1:41:51 0:09:15

Matt Flood is hugged by John Escher at the finish.

Leg ten, 11.9 miles
32 Team S.N.A.F.U., Katie McDonnell, 1:51:20 0:09:12
38 Dead Salmon Heads, Beth Cline, 1:53:31 0:09:22

24 Sucker Punch, Chet Badina, 1:29:52 0:07:25
*38 Slackmasters, Jon Ruth, 1:38:00 0:08:05
*51 Top Gun, Matt Flood, 1:45:44 0:08:44
56 WP & YR Highballers, John Briner, 1:49:41 0:09:03

* place has been estimated based on time because of alternations in the race roster.