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,


  1. I must appreciate the way you have expressed your feelings through your blog!
    PPC Expert

  2. Casey really loved running the race the year he went and ran with Chuck on the Petersburg team (not sure which one). I know you two were there too! I just walk, and do Pilates, but I enjoy it! We have some beautiful trails here and I enjoy the ladies I walk with. Usually do about a 5 mile walk about 3 times a week - not much, but better than nothing!

    1. Hi Shari! I remember the year Casey ran the Klondike. Running is a great sport but surely not the only one. Anything we can do to keep the these old bones active is a good thing. There's nothing more enjoyable that walking one trails with friends. Take care!

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