Wednesday, September 16, 2015

8 Reasons the Klondike Road Relay ROCKS!

If you are a runner, you simply must bring a team to the Klondike Road Relay in September.  This event always occurs the weekend after Labor Day.  What follows is a list of 8 reasons the Klondike Road Relay ROCKS!!

1.  This is truly an international road race.
The relay is run on the 110 mile road that connects Skagway, Alaska to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada.  There are 10 legs in the race varying from 5.6 miles to 16 miles.  The majority of participants are from Alaska and Canada but I ran into a couple of ladies who were driving support for 3 teams with members from London, Vancouver, Chicago and many other places.

2.  The race is very well organized.
The race starts in waves with the first group of about 20 runners starting leg 1 at 6 PM on Friday evening, followed by a new group every half hour until 11PM.  Each team enters their estimated finish time and the race coordinators issue a team start time based upon this estimation.  The goal is to have all of the teams finish between noon and 3 PM on Saturday.

Each leg exchange point has a tent for the staff, a couple of porta potties and a big bon fire.  There are also staff at the point of the '1 kilometer until the finish' that radio into the staff at the exchange tent as runners go by them.  The staff at the tent holler out the team ID numbers as runners pass the 1 kilometer point.  This allows the next runner to be ready for the exchange.

3. You have bragging rights.
All of the legs are fairly long and the short ones are hard.  Leg 1 is 8.8 miles and leg 2 is 5.6 miles but they go up a mountain from Elevation 0 to about 3450 feet in 14 miles.  The third leg, is called the 'Princess Leg' because it is the shortest at 7.8 miles, and really the easiest of all of the legs, but it isn't easy.  By the time a runner gets to leg 4 it's about 11 PM.  This leg is 13.1 miles long, a half marathon.  Leg 5 is 13.9 miles long and leg 6 is 16 miles.  Runners starting Leg 7 get to watch the sun rise.  Leg 8 is 13.4 miles, 9 is 11 miles and 10, the glory leg is 12.1 miles.  Most people sleep at some point between the 6 PM start and the end of the race, but very few people are running these distances on more than 5 or 6 hours of sleep.

4.  You get to see people at their best.
Runners excel!  Everyone gives 100% to run their race.  Team members give 100% to support their runners.  The result is 200% incredible.

5.  Camaraderie!
Close quarters and hard work encourage lasting relationships.  This race brings family and friends together and gives us an opportunity to make new friends.

6.  The race ends in a big park, where you pick up your Klondike Road Runner Relay T-shirt and have team pictures taken.
Michael finishing his 20th leg-the 'glory leg' for sure!

7.  There is always a kick ass party at the end of the race.
The real reason for this race is to get your friends, new and old, to Whitehorse for a fun, fun Saturday night.  Our team begins the night with a little post-race debrief.  This year Michael ran his 20th Klondike, every leg 2 times. We helped him celebrate this momentous occasion with gallons of love and affection but only teaspoons of the energy we'd had to celebrated his finish of the first 10 legs.
Scott created a magnificent plaque for Michael out of a piece of the Haines gym floor and pins from all legs of race.  In addition, he composed a lovely poem to commemorate Michaels many years of hard work and continued service.

After the team debrief, we break bread together at a Whitehorse restaurant.  Many people end the evening at the race sponsored dance where a live band plays and you can purchase beer and wine to ease the aches and pains from your run.  Many master runners say goodbye to their younger counterparts at this point and hit the hay.

Beasts of Southeast on their way to post-race dinner

8.  Scenery!
The road that connects Skagway to Whitehorse has some of the loveliest views on the planet.  The yellows and reds of the trees show starkly against the gray rocks and dark evergreens.  The lakes and rivers are spectacular.  

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

8 Things Master Runners Can Do to Prepare for the Klondike Road Relay

The Klondike International Road Relay is all about endurance.  Imagine, a 110 mile, 10 leg relay run, that takes you from Skagway, Alaska to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada.  Each team has 10 members, one for each leg of the relay.  Each leg has lots of mileage and lots of hills, but these don't take the endurance.  Endurance is needed to participate because this race starts Friday at 6PM and finishes Saturday at about 2PM.  The three longest legs of the run happen in the middle of the night.  Leg 4 is 13.1 miles, leg 5 is 13.9 miles and leg 6 is 16 miles.

This is kind of a blurry sketch of the 110 mile run.
Click Here to see the profile and individual leg details.

My husband and I began running this crazy, fun event when we turned 40 and finished the 10th leg when we were 49.  We both have memorial plaques thanks to the members of our incredible team.  After running all ten legs of the relay, we went back for an 11th year and re-ran one of our favorite legs.  Sadly, after 11 years of participating, we stopped attending the Klondike Road Relay.  It had been such a big part of our lives for 11 years so it was truly sad when we were unable to make the time for it.

Well, this May we received an email from a former team mate asking if we'd like to form a team because another of our former team mates, Michael would be running his 20th consecutive Klondike Relay meaning all 10 legs twice.  We jumped at the chance to see the old team again and to be there for Michael's accomplishment.  Our daughter Helen, had run a few of the Klondike's with us over the years and she was thrilled to be able to be there for the historic occasion.  In addition, a good friend of Helen's, Bradee will com with us and run her first Klondike Road Relay.

Young people can be asked to participate at the last minute because well, they're young.  They only need few weeks to get their legs in shape.  But Master Runners need a little more time to plan and prep.

I have devised a list of 8 things that can help Master Runners prepare for the Klondike Road Relay.

1.  Make the decision to run early.
I think May is a good month to make the decision to run this relay race.  The Klondike Road Relay starts the first Friday evening after Labor Day.  Having 3 months to prepare gives your body the time to work up to the mileage you will run and gives you time to recover from the injuries that will happen during your training.  Remember, you are a Master Runner and it takes a lot longer for things to heal.

2.  Do a training run that is close to the distance and time your leg will be run.
If you are doing 16 miles in the middle of the night, in the dark, it's good idea to know what that will be like.  It's also okay to just wait until the race and be surprised.  Surprises can be fun.

3.  Run hills.
There are very few flat surfaces on the road.  You will be going up or down a hill during the entire run.  Legs 3 and 4 are running down from the summit but there are still up-hills thrown in here and there.  Leg 9 might be the flattest run, but there are still hills.  And when I say hills, I mean HILLS.

4. Bring the right clothing for the run.
You don't know what the weather will be so bring a a few clothing options.  The run from Skagway to the top of the mountain can be warm, cool, dry or blustery.  I've seen snow at the top of the pass.... COLD.  There have been warm winds on the Yukon side, and there have been cold, frosty mornings.  So, bring layers.  You won't go wrong with capris but you may need thin running pants.  I suggest a long sleeve shirt, a short sleeve shirt and a running rain coat.  I've seen plenty of rain on the Alaska side of the mountains.  Don't forget your shoes and socks.  If you are running one of the first 6 legs, bring a headlamp.  There will be lots of lonely dark miles on this road.   And most importantly, bring a change of cloths for after the run.  You will be wet.

5.  Decide what you want to do about sleep.  
You will not get very much of it.  If you need sleep before you run, you may want to talk to your physician about getting a sleep aid.  I learned about Ambien in my late 40's and it has been a lifesaver.  I didn't ever use it for the Klondike but I always use it prior to other races.  This year I'm bringing it with me to the Klondike.  Remember, you are a Master Runner and sleep may be the difference between running and not running.

6.  Think about how you want to be supported during your leg and bring the food and drink you want for support.
Some people like Gu or Power Gel.  Some people like Gatorade.  Some people like water.  Whatever you like, be sure you have it in your car.  Be sure your support team knows how often you want them to stop and what food or drink you want them to have ready.  If you like something special at the end of a long run, a treat for your hard work, be sure you have it in the car.  I love a beer after a long run so that is also on my list.  You can justify anything at the end of a long run, no matter the hour.

7.  Do a nice slow run 2 days before your leg of the race and then just chill until you are passed the baton.
Of course you should be carbo loading during these final two days too.  Actually, you should carbo load for at least a week before the race.  The best part of running any race is the carbo load.  It is a requirement for a good race-Really.  That means, cookies, pretzels and beer.  You are a Master Runner and simply can't skimp on the rest and carbo load stage of your race preparation!

8.  Prepare to have FUN!!! The Klondike Road Relay is truly one of the most fun running events you will ever participate in.
I have run lots of races and I can honestly say, this run has left me with the most incredible memories.  The run is only the beginning of a fun weekend.  The reason you run all night Friday is so that you can feast and party all night Saturday.  For the Master Runner, the feast and party generally happen at the same time and "all night" really means until about 10PM.  But, no matter how old you are, the camaraderie, support and shared experiences make wonderful stories and memories that last a lifetime.

Helen, Doug, Audrey and I at the end of a nice slow run.
We are done running until the race!  Cookies and beer here I come.

Linking to:
Motivation Monday, Hit Me With Your Best Shot, Merry Monday Link Party, A Creative Princess: It's a Party,