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.  


  1. Gorgeous scenery indeed! Lovely series of photos.

  2. Dazzling views. Indeed, I'd love to feel that when you see such a marvelous landscape in front of you. Very pleased to read your blog too. You bring a sparkle of light into my life. Thanks.