Highballin' at the Start

WP&YR Highballers runner Rose Perotto looking strong at the relay start in Skagway. Photo by Jennifer Collins

Skagwayans get “A” for effort in road relay

By JENNIFER COLLINS
Some people wear those shirts, “Running is life ... everything else is just details.”
The road relay last weekend proved Skagwayans are not those people — except for a few standouts.
The fastest Skagway teams finished “somewhere in the middle” at the 19th Annual Klondike “Trail of ’98” International Road Relay Sept. 8.
A steam train whistle started runners on the first leg of the relay at Second and Broadway in Skagway. Race starts were staggered from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. Sept. 7.
The nine following legs pieced together the 109.6 miles to Whitehorse’s Rotary Peace Park, where teams began arriving midday.
Skagway’s White Pass & Yukon Route Highballers took home the “bragging rights” for Skagway, finishing 60th overall in the race. Team S.N.A.F.U. followed, finishing 78th, with Fairway Market and A Running Borealis 108th and 109th.
Frigid rain and gusty wind hammered teams as they mounted the pass. But with the Saturday sunrise, the weather cleared and the sun warmed the 122 teams that finished the race.
Skagway runners Phillip Clark and Mark Mench demonstrated speed in an outstanding fashion, each finishing sixth among the men in legs one and four, respectively.
Clark and Mench probably wear “life is running” shirts.
Although, Clark’s late arrival at the starting line, may indicate his “running addiction” is less severe.
“He showed up about five minutes before the start — still in jeans,” said Maria Lang, captain of his team. “He dropped his pants and — he did have shorts on underneath. And just before the train whistle blew, he turned to the race judge and asked, ‘how long is this leg?’”
Nevertheless, Clark managed to run the 8.8-mile course in 59 minutes, 23 seconds.
Although five of the nine runners are from Skagway, the team claimed Juneau as it’s headquarters. A Hard Dazed Night finished 56th overall.
The other Skagway standout, Mench may have warmed up a bit more before his 13.3 mile leg, which he ran in one hour, 23 minutes, 34 seconds. However, Mench reportedly runs marathons. He definitely owns a shirt.
Although captain of the Fairway Market, Tim Fairbanks, wandered around telling everyone that his team won the relay, he decided to set the record straight and say they actually won the award for best baton hand-off. Is there an award for that?
For the “backwards baton pass,” Fairbanks said, a team member, starting a leg, handed off a beer to the team member, finishing the previous leg.
“That was a tradition that the Mountain Shop thought we needed to have,” Fairbanks said.
Although it may have finished last among Skagway teams, A Running Borealis finished first for largest numbers of supporters. Captain Jill Gutlzer said they had four support vehicles, including a Princess airporter, and 20 supporters until runners reached Fraser.
Gutlzer said the supporters found a unique way of “supporting” leg one runner Chris Martin.
After the start, they drove to Martin’s house, put on his clothes — boxer shorts, hats, jackets, and waved to him as he passed.
The WP&YR Highballers cite it’s success is due to support drivers as well. Drivers reportedly encouraged runners by telling jokes about mushrooms going into bars, performing choreographed dances to 80s movie soundtracks and promising beer and granola bars after the run.
Team S.N.A.F.U. (Situation Normal: All F—-ed Up), Captain Beth “Shakey” Winslow, who is 127 years old, according to race records, had one comment, “We’re not the competitive kind.”
Times are as follows: Open — 12. A Running Borealis 18:22:27. Mixed — 30. WP&YR Highballers 16:19:02, 43. Team S.N.A.F.U. 17:12:39, 55. Fairway Market 18:20:52.
Editor’s note: This commentary presents the views of one Jennifer Collins. Jennifer poorly attempts to hide the fact that she once owned a “Running is life” shirt. The shirt has since disintegrated in her rather vile body sweat, but at least she survived leg eight.