Foggy Mountain Breakdown

A runner emerges through the fog after crossing Capt. Moore Bridge during stage two of the road relay.

Photo by Dimitra Lavrakas

Turbodogs first to finish line
First Skagway team to crack top 10

They may not have taken first place in the 18th Annual Klondike Trail of ‘98 International Road Relay, but the Jewell Construction Turbodogs were first over the finish line, 10th overall, the fastest Skagway team and their leg five runner, Philip Clark, had the 15th fastest pace out of 1,379 runners.
“We’re still in shock,” Turbodogs team captain Peter Tucci said. “We’d hoped to crack the top 20, but this may be the high water mark for the Turbodogs.”
The Turbodogs were two hours behind the winning Take No Prisoners from Anchorage, 11:18:52. Palmer, Alaska’s Sole Sisters, 13:45:13, won in the Women category and Vestigial Appendages of Juneau blasted to the top of the Mixed category in 12 hours, 20 minutes and 37 seconds.
The spell of the Yukon lulled 139 teams from Skagway in half-hour intervals from 6 to 11 p.m. Sept. 8, to begin the 110-mile relay to Whitehorse. Runners raced through wind, rain, the black of night, and even some sunshine at the end.
The race was graced with no injuries, a few bear sightings by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police patrolling the area, and only one minor accident by an RCMP patrol car that backed into a ditch early Saturday morning, reported the RCMP.
Of 139 teams, six were from Skagway: The Jewell Construction Turbodogs, The Slackers, The Westmark’s Snafu, Princess’s A Running Borealis, The Hotdams, and The White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad Highballers.
The Hotdams left gray and drizzly Skagway with the first blow of the whistle at 6 p.m. and crossed into Rotary Park 18 hours, 38 minutes and 35 seconds later.
Three teams – The Slackers, A Running Borealis and The Highballers – left at 7 p.m. The Turbodogs were unleashed at 8:30 and The Snafu was the last Skagway team to head north into the night at 9.
Trevor Twardochleb, who organized the race with Sports Yukon in Whitehorse, said the weather was about what he expected.
“It’s been such a rainy summer,” Twardochleb said. “We’re used to a few more teams, but when the weather’s been like this, what can you expect? The turn-out is still good though.”
Four-time racer Jeremy Simmons of Skagway said this was the worst weather he’s seen yet.
“It’s been colder than this,” Simmons said. “But since I’ve raced, it hasn’t been windy like this.”
Simmons, who ran for the 118th place Highballers, said it was a great race because everyone on his team had to push themselves beyond their usual abilities.
“Six out of our 10 racers had never been in this race before, so we probably have the highest number of personal records,” Simmons said.
Highballer runner Liz Ruff said she had to sweat blood to finish leg four. Her trick was to imagine someone chasing her. Perhaps the ghosts of the Yukon were keeping her company?
“As I got further into the (13.3 mile) run, my delirium turned into hallucinations and I think it really seemed someone was chasing me,” she laughed.
When WP&YR employee Tim Alderson, who ran for the Princess team, walked by, Simmons said loudly, “And everyone should know, Princess (A Running Borealis) didn’t officially beat White Pass because they had to recruit our (WP) runners.”
The speedy Turbodogs had to recruit a runner as well – the morning of the race. They found out Friday morning their leg three runner hurt herself the night before and couldn’t run. They’d heard Chuck Giede was looking for a team to run with. After they unquestioningly accepted each other, Tucci found out how lucky the Turbodogs were. Giede had recently parked his car at the Canadian customs station and run to Fraser and back for fun.
“Everything worked out perfect,” Tucci said of the second best-ever Skagway team time. “It will never be this smooth again.”

Peter Jepsen of the 'Dogs crosses the finish line first in Whitehorse.

Photo by Chuck Tobin, Whitehorse Star

The closest the ‘Dogs got to an injury was before the race even started. Jeff Kasler (leg 8) started the race off in a back brace.
“But after a few miles he pulled it off and said he felt fine,” Tucci said. Kasler went on to capture the fastest Skagway time for that section by more than 10 minutes.
When leg 7 runner Mary Holozubiec passed the first runner, she was amazed.
“Usually the runners with really good times (who start later) blow by, but they never came,” Tucci said.
Their legs 8-10 runners had stayed at the Westmark in Whitehorse the night before and were to meet at the checkpoints. All of the runners had been arriving at their leg finish within five minutes of their estimated times.
When the three later runners drove to checkpoint eight and saw that it wasn’t even set up yet, they thought they still had an hour. They were about to head back to get breakfast when Peter Jepsen’s wife Glory suggested they drive down for a few miles just to be sure.
Four miles down the road they spotted a runner.
“They were all like, ‘Is that a runner? Whoa, Is that our runner?,’” Tucci said.
There was Holozubiec speeding along. They quickly turned around and raced back to drop Kasler, their leg 8 runner, off.
“It was pretty exciting,” Holozubiec said of the experience. “None of the checkpoints were set up. No one was ready for us. It was fun.”
As Schrienberg ran over the finish to leg 9 everyone jumped up in anticipation of the trail of runners behind him.
“He was in some pain,” Tucci said. “He went right to the massage tent.”
When the rest of the team was ready to go and cheer on Jepsen to the finish they found Schrienberg asleep on the massage table.
“When we went in there the woman who was working on him said, ‘ don’t you dare wake him up’,” Tucci said. “So we just told her to have him hitch to the finish line, which he did with someone he knew from Take No Prisoners.”
When they arrived the Take No Prisoners runner was concerned that the Turbodogs would be crossing the finish line first.
“I told him not to worry; we left hours before them,” Tucci said with a chuckle.
Not winning the race didn’t dim the thrill of being first across the finish line. Jepsen crossed into camera bulbs flashing, radio interviews and cheers from the crowd.
A Running Borealis finisher, Gayle Baker, also crossed the finish line to bulbs flashing and gasps from the crowd but more from her attire than her time.
After being spotted by her teammates on the far side of the bridge from Rotary Park in Whitehorse, she dipped under the bridge and removed her outer clothes to finish the race `a la Brandi Chastain – in her sports bra and underwear.
“I just did it because all the guys mooned me,” Baker said. Her teammates had pulled a “gorilla cheer”– hiding behind the bushes and jumping out to loudly encourage her on. The women on the team yelled while all of the men dropped their drawers and slapped their fannies as Baker ran past.
“That poor woman behind her,” teammate Tim Alderson said. “We were afraid she might start running faster just to get away from us.”
Alderson said his run from Broadway up the Klondike Highway was grueling.
“I’ve never felt so bad, and yet so mildly elite in my whole life,” Alderson said as he limped back to the plush Princess support van.
Running Borealis’ second leg runner, Kate McNatt, said she had extra inspiration to get going, because the runner next to her was a talker.
She blazed into her second leg with a 42nd best lap pace, out of 139 runners.
“There was a lot of walking traffic, which just makes you feel good to pass a lot of people,” McNatt said.
Leg 3 runner Chris Martin agreed.
“Not to sound cocky,” Martin said. “But, it feels good when you pass people. I think I tagged 11 people, which isn’t bad for my first race ever.”
As the dark and cold reigned in, runners started crashing on the mattress in the back of the van. Borealis’ leg 4 runner, Jill Gutzler, slapped a mixed tape her friend sent her into her Walkman and bounced laps between the van seats.
“Sometimes I train,” Gutzler said. “Sometimes I don’t. It always takes me two hours.”
As Gutzler chugged through the 13.3 miles her teammates laughed that she’d reached “maximum Jill speed.”
“The great thing is, she can pace herself for a long run,” leg 6 runner Greg Russell said. “She’ll be going this same speed 10 miles from now.”
Russell, who finished 64th in the mixed category, was almost left behind in Skagway when his support drivers couldn’t find him after their beginning runner left.
The call came over the cluster of anxious teammates, “He’s in the Red Onion.”
After he was rounded up, team captain McNatt chastised him, “I thought we agreed no drinking before your leg.”
That didn’t stop anyone from asking for it though. On mile 13 uphill of a 14 mile run, Tim Ludwig who’d only run once before, started calling for the Captain (Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum).
With the help of a borrowed pair of space-age Nike shoes, Ludwig finished in great time, though he was still walking bow-legged two days later.

Runners take off from Broadway. Photo by Dimitra Lavrakas

As Chad Cullex climbed aboard the van after sizzling through leg 8 with the best Skagway time, he melted into the seat.
“I should have a beer after the race this year, since I had a cigarette last year,” Cullex said.
“Dingo loves this,” support driver Kevin Hyder said referring to the stuffed mascot that team members alternately photographed with each other and barked at runners with.
Hyder and Julie Maulding drove the whole race. Maulding got special prizes for each runner after they completed their leg – Grizzly Beer, a Milky Way candy bar for the midnight racer and a Pot of Gold candy bar for the finish line. They were often driving, cheering and trying to get water for the middle-of-the night runners when everyone else in the van was snoring and drooling on the seats.
Whether a ghost of the Klondike, personal triumph, glory or a Pot of Gold – 1,379 runners found the inspiration to charge through 110-miles of challenging course and weather and come out the other end into the cheering onlookers at Rotary Park.
As Jeremy Simmons said, “I’ll be back next year. I don’t think I’ll get any smarter.”

For race results, go to:

Flying Free

Pilot takes off in a new direction

Some people never get it. They make the same mistake over and over again in their lives.
But not Dale Garwood.
After having his pilot license revoked in April 1998 by the Federal Aviation Administration for flying under the influence while chief pilot at Skagway Air Service, the pilot took a hard look at his life. And he changed it.
“When something is causing you problems, maybe you should take another look at it,” he said about his drinking problem. He said giving up alcohol was “surrendering a thing of my youth.”
“There’s time and a place for everything, and the time for partying and carousing was gone,” he said. “It’s been over a year since I’ve drunk anything at all, and I feel much better,” he said. “I haven’t had anyone in town try and get me to drink.”
He said he’s very grateful for the support the community has shown him since the incident first happened.
Thirty minutes before Garwood’s flight to Juneau, with then-Police Chief Dave Sexton’s wife and children on board, an anonymous person called the FAA in Juneau and reported Garwood was flying drunk. They were waiting for him when he landed.
His blood alcohol level was .079 percent, and although within the .10 percent limit for operating a private plane, the reading was higher than the FAA’s .04 percent for operation of a commercial airplane.
He said he harbors no resentment for the person who reported him, but wishes the person had reported him in Skagway – before he took off and possibly could have endangered his passengers.
He appealed the FAA’s decision to revoke his license for a year and they lowered it to nine months. During those nine months he spent time on his parents’ Nebraska ranch, worked for other airlines in an advisory capacity, spent time in Denver – all the while keeping in touch with Skagway Air’s manager of operations Mike O’Daniel.
He returned to Skagway Air this summer as chief pilot, his old position.
“I have respect for him,” said O’Daniel. “He never made excuses, he stood up and dealt with his problem.”
O’Daniel said he was very happy to have Garwood back because of his experience flying in this region. He said small airlines are losing pilots to major airlines, because the majors have lowered the number of required hours to fly, but small commuter airlines still have more stringent standards.
“It’s a relief any time you can get experienced people, and Dale does an excellent job of that,” said O’Daniel. “He can react to the changing weather we have here, and other pilots listen to him. Plus he can fly any of the planes we have, something no other pilot can.”

Cell phone ordinance to get three readings

Quality of life will be affected, says resident

In an unprecedented move, the Skagway City Council will allow a third reading on Ordinance 2000-18 that authorizes a lease between the city and Cellular One for space on the city’s new communication tower next to the A.B. Skyline Trail.
Skagway resident Matt Brinkmann gave testimony during the public input section of the Skagway City Council Sept. 7 meeting and asked some pertinent questions about the effect cell phones would have on the quality of life here.
“Cellular phones represent a media which is not only seen but heard as well,” said Brinkmann, an Alaska Power & Telephone employee. “Without choice, you would be forced to hear context of phone calls whether you like it or not.”
Brinkmann said cell phones would add more chaos to the hubbub on Broadway, and that in order to dial long distance on a cell phone in Skagway a person would have to dial 11 numbers, raising questions about driving safety.
And he raised the concern about visitor satisfaction in a historic town.
“Who will be responsible for the dissatisfaction of our visitors when someone destroys a happy train ride or city tour because they have to make or take a call?” he said.
He also pointed out that novice hikers may rely too much on a cell phone to rescue them if they hike beyond their experience.
“Any way you look at it, fiscal burdens on the fire department and the city would inevitably be changed; more likely than not it would be for the worse,” he said.
During council discussion on the ordinance, Councilmember Stan Selmer, because he is manager of Alaska Power & Telephone Co. in Skagway, asked to step away from the table to comment.
“AP&T supplies 911 service to the city,” he said. “Six years ago, the city had a problem with transmission, and asked AP&T to use their antenna. We did it with no cost to the city. Three years ago, it needed a repeater from Mine Mountain to Goat Lake, and we charged the city $1,500 for supplies. The city uses that repeater without cost. We do emergency systems, yet we were not given the chance to bid on the project.
“Take what Matt says to heart, and I do think it will degrade the quality of life here.”
Councilmember Colette Hisman said she was concerned that the council passes ordinances without crafting revisions, instead waiting for the next meeting to do that.
“I don’t mind if I see a third reading,” said Vice Mayor J. Frey.
The council voted to pass the ordinance as is until there is more public input at the next two meetings. Councilmembers Selmer, Tim Bourcy, J. Frey, Dan Henry, Dave Hunz voted for the ordinance, but Hisman voted no.
Ward said the company was looking at the service as being seasonal. However, at a meeting on Sept. 14 on tidelands leases, Dave Garrison with Dobson Cellular Systems, Inc., of Youngstown, Ohio, which represents Cellular One, said the company wanted to offer it year-round, and he didn’t know where that rumor came from.
“So, when can we get cell service?” asked Mayor John Mielke.
“In a couple three weeks,” replied Garrison.
Cellular One specially built the communications building at A.B. for the situation in Skagway, said Garrison. If the company decided to abandon operations here, he wouldnt rule out selling the building to the city for $1.
In the lease, the city would get $100 a month from the company to lease the property, but after five years, and for each five years thereafter, 15 percent would be added to the basic rent.
The second reading had been scheduled for Sept. 21, but that meeting was cancelled for lack of a quorum, and has been rescheduled for Sept. 28.

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