Other Runners

By Rob McWilliam and Larry Duguay

"Ah, the rise of ‘trail marathons’ races with a sense of puckish ness, adventure, magnificent scenery you can’t afford the time to fully appreciate, and of course a guarantee that you won’t run a fast time." Trail marathons take marathon running back to its roots. Pheidippides, after all, didn’t run on asphalt highways between Marathon and Athens. That was the way Richard Benyo introduced readers to his article on the 2000 Yukon River Trail Marathon in Marathon and Beyond. Whitehorse is truly blessed with an extensive network of trails and old mining and wood cutting roads that allow runners to experience the incredible area that we live in. Sometimes it takes an outsider like Benyo to remind us of just how fortunate we are.

Whether you are part of a team doing one of the relay sections, are in the half marathon, or going for it in the full marathon the Yukon River Trail events give all runners the opportunity to experience trail running at its best. You have the company of like minded souls, well marked trails so on of the less positive aspects of trail running getting lost- isn’t an issue, enthusiastic volunteers to support your efforts, and at the end snacks and fluids followed by a party.

In running you’ll be sharing the trails not only with your running buddies and those other faces that are familiar from the local racing scene, but also a fascinating cross section of hard core distance runners from all over the world. You may want to be there to see if anyone can bet the blistering times set by Ryan Leef (2:56) and Shelly Johnson (3:36) in last year’s marathon. Or you may want to meet some very colourful international runners.

Runners like Dr. Paul Piplani, who was in Whitehorse for the 2000 event. When last heard from he had already run 254 marathons, including having run on all seven continents. Last year he ran the Juneau marathon on the Saturday and then the Yukon River Trail Marathon on the Sunday. He was so enthusiastic about the experience that he intends to do the same back-to-back performance again this year! He has enough marathon adventure stories to keep runners entertained for the entire 42.2 kilometres.

Another runner who will be at the starting line on August 5 th is John Lent from New Jersey. This will be a special one for John since it will mark the completion of a major goal. When he crosses the finish line he will have run a marathon in all 50 States and D.C., plus all Canadian provinces and territories. It will be a pleasure to be there to cheer him across the finish line.

Other than the interesting runners you’ll be meeting you will also be seeing a lot of volunteers who are giving up their Sunday to help you to achieve you goal. On a trail race the volunteers are especially important since most trail runs require you to be self-contained. By the time you load up several litres of water, some power gels and all the other accessories like bear banger and extra clothing for our changeable weather you generally feel like you are carrying a weight handicap. In this event the volunteers at the aid stations take all that weight off your back! Actually volunteers are the key to making an event a great one, and we are very fortunate to have so many enthusiastic volunteers. From the folks that stuff the race packages and cope with the line ups at registration, to the Race Marshall and timing crew that are on the job as long as any runners are out on the course, to the aid stations and course marshals that provide direction to keep the runners on track, to those truly appreciated folks who stick around for the clean up activities we runners owe them all a lot of thanks. While space prevents me from listing all of the individual volunteers I do want to give recognition to some of the organizations that have offered to help. The Lions, Rotary, and Girl Guides will be at aid stations playing a key role. The Ski Patrol will once again be out on the trails to help out with any medical problems that runners may experience. Please show your appreciation while out there on the trails on race day.

(All dates and runs are for 2001 event please check our main web pages for this year’s events)

If you haven’t signed up there is still time to register. You can enter until Saturday afternoon, August 4 th. However, while we would love to have as many runners as possible we do caution you not to let last minute enthusiasm get you into something that you haven’t adequately trained for. The course is a tough one. Paul Piplani wrote last year, “The course itself ain’t for wimps and is ideal training for an event such as Pike’s Peak. Yukon River Trail ain’t your mama’s Hartford, CT type flat chested marathon. But if you are a real runner, you gotta do this one and experience the whole enchilada. You won’t regret it.” If you haven’t spent the summer training there are still ways to get a large bite of that enchilada. Do the half marathon at an easy pace, or get a bunch of friends together for a team. You can be part of the event without pushing yourself to the point of crashing. By being realistic about your abilities you can participate and still be in shape to enjoy the party afterwards.

One way to check on whether this is really the event for you, or if you are ready for the distance is to join one of our training runs to check out the course and your fitness level. Runners familiar with the course will be leading training runs Thursdays at 5:30. Join the group on July 19 at Chadburn picnic shelter to run leg 3. On July 26 we’ll be running leg 4, starting at the Chadburn Road ski parking area. After that we’ll be tapering and would encourage you to do the same.