Time to Commit

By Rob McWilliam and Larry Duguay

It’s time to commit to this year’s Valhalla Pure Yukon River Trail Marathon, scheduled for August 5 th. (Please note: all dates and prices are for the 2001 event) Not only do you need to decide which of the four race formats that you will participate in (full or half-marathon, or two or four-person relay), but you have just two days (this Friday) to save some money by completing your Early-Bird registration. Okay we’re extending the early-bird deadline from Friday June 8 th to Monday, June 11 th just to protect the Valhalla Pure staff from all those runners who would otherwise come in and say, “But I was thinking about signing up early.” But still that’s only five more days. If you register early you will save $15.00 off of the full-price registration. Early-Bird registration for the race is $45.00. For this amazingly low price, which “Marathon and Beyond” magazine calls the “best bargain in trail running”. You will get an opportunity to participate in a great local running event, drinks and snacks during and after the race, a quality article of clothing, and a post-race banquet and awards ceremony at the Regina Hotel. For more information or to register, visit Valhalla Pure on Main Street in Whitehorse, or check out our Website at http://www.yukonmarathon.com.

If you decide to participate, here are a few points to think about. First, decide what format you are going to run: the marathon, half-marathon, two or four-person relay. A marathon is a little over 26 miles or about 42 kilometres. A half-marathon is about 13 miles or 21 kilometres. You can run on a two or four-person relay, run a half-marathon, or the full distance. The course has four legs varying in length from 7 to 13.7 kilometres. The two and four-person relays follow the full marathon course, while the half-marathon covers legs one and four. The way it’s set up, there are options for runners of all strengths and experience.

The trail marathon, half-marathon and relays run along the Yukon River and follow popular hiking and skiing trails through the scenic boreal forest. All of the racing formats will provide thrills, hills and possibly even spills to the novice and experienced trail runner as they weave through the forest, past lakes, and along the historic Yukon River.

Leg 1 Rotary Park to Miles Canyon Suspension Bridge (7 kilometres or approx. 4.4 miles)

The race starts in Rotary Park and follows the Yukon River Walk past the Robert Service Campground and the Yukon Energy Corporation’s Whitehorse Rapids Plant. There it turns left onto Schwatka Lake Road and runs past the float plane base to the Schwatka Lake Trail. The course leaves the paved road at the log cabin just before the first major hill on the road and then follows the old dirt road to the river trail. Extreme caution should be observed here, as the trail is narrow with loose material in a couple of short sections. It may be impassable at the present time due to some spot sliding, but will be repaired prior to the race. The course follows the old Hepburn Tramway until it briefly rejoins the Miles Canyon Road, then turns left down a short, steep trail to cross the Miles Canyon Suspension Bridge and arrive at the first exchange point.

Leg 2 Miles Canyon Bridge to Chadburn Lake (10.5 km or 6.5 miles)

At the exchange point the course turns right and follows the Yukon River trail through Canyon City and further south along the riverbank. It’s a good idea to keep your eyes on the trail and not the scenery as you run along the Miles Canyon section as there are some steep, rocky drop-offs to the river. Approximately 2.5 kilometres past Canyon City the course takes a sharp turn left towards Chadburn Lake. It follows a lovely forest trail with only a few big hills for excitement to the second exchange point at the Chadburn Lake picnic shelter.

Leg 3 Chadburn Lake to the Miles Canyon Bridge (11 km or 6.8 miles)

The course continues north along Chadburn Lake then cuts through the forest to Chadden Lake. It follows the low trail to the north end of the lake where there is a big hill leading to a lookout point. From there the course follows an undulating trail for approximately two kilometres before making a hard, uphill right to the Blue Ski Trail. It then follows this trail across Chadburn Lake Road to ski trail parking lot and then back to the Miles Canyon Bridge and the third exchange point.

Leg 4 Miles Canyon Bridge to Finish (13.7 km or 8.6 miles)

From the footbridge the course turns north and follows the east shore of Schwatka Lake past the boat launch and up a big gravely hill. It continues for a few kilometres to the picnic area where it crosses the Chadburn Lake Road and does a loop around Hidden Lakes. It then goes on to Heartbreak Hill (don’t let the name intimidate you it’s tough but do-able). At the top it descends across the Chadburn Lake road again and climbs up another hill to a lookout point above the Whitehorse Rapids Dam. By this point you’ll be convinced that the organizers have a really mean streak, but this is only partially true as the challenge of getting the distance right is also a contributing factor. From the top of the hill overlooking the dam it’s an easy run down to the Yukon River. The course then follows the riverbank to the Robert Campbell Bridge, and crosses and loops under the bridge to the finish line in Rotary Park.

Aid stations will be set up along the way at approximately five-kilometre intervals to provide fluids and snacks to runners, and the course will be patrolled by race officials and the Yukon Ski Patrol using mountain bikes.