In Yukon, the spectacular scenery all around allows us to rise above the pain and monotony that is sometimes experienced when running on paved roads.
Three major road races take place each season. The 5K and 10K Yukon Road Race Championships are held between mid-June and late July each year. The dates are not fixed to allow the greatest possible flexibility in scheduling community events around the territory. Check the Calendar Of Events for the most up-to-date event information.
Yukon’s premier and most popular running event is hosted by Sport Yukon – the Trail of “98 Klondike Road Relay. This road race pits teams of runners against the topography and each other as they race from tidewater at Skagway, Alaska to the shores of the Yukon River in downtown Whitehorse. This maximum ten-person team event is usually held the first Friday and Saturday of September but please consult the schedule to confirm. There are a host of categories for the full event, a walking category of teams of four and a youth category of teams of eight starting in Carcross. An ultra-marathon category for individuals wishing to push their limits begins in Carcross for a grueling run to Whitehorse.
Whitehorse is a small city set over a large tract of real estate with hundreds of kilometers of walking, trekking, running and mountain biking trails. From the valley bottom trails at the rivers edge, to the ridge tops of Grey Mountain, Mt. McIntyre and Haeckel Hill, there are trails to challenge and treat every athlete regardless of fitness level. Enthusiasts are seen using the 70 kilometers of cross country ski trails of the Whitehorse Cross Country Ski Club at the Mount McIntyre facility or the old wood cutter trails on the slopes of Grey Mountain. There is less pain yet possibly more to gain by going cross-country.
Yukon has two running tracks: one at the Watson Lake Secondary School in Watson Lake the other at the FH Collins High School in Whitehorse. Both tracks are a crushed gravel surface. The Watson Lake track is approximately 400m with square corners. The track in Whitehorse is a six lane ~400m track and is the site of the annual high school track and field meet. This track is used by the Yukon’s track and field team and is where a group of mature athletes meet for weekly speed/interval sessions.
Athletics Yukon provides opportunities to young athletes to prepare for and compete at a number of out-of-Yukon events. The Jack Brow meet is held annually in Kelowna, BC at the end of June. This meet provides for age class events in most events in all disciplines (running, jumping and throwing). We often take athletes to the Jack Brow to allow them to compete at a well-organized event on a rubber track. Teams are trained for and taken to the Western Canada and Canada Summer Games. Athletes who are 16 and 17 and exhibit both talent and dedication to the sport are offered the opportunity to join the BC-Yukon team that competes in the Legion National Track and Filed Championships and training camp.
This challenging sport has witnessed top performances by local athletes at the World Maters Games competition level. Race walking, unlike power walking, has strict requirements of technique. It is the only discipline in athletics that requires on-course judges to evaluate a competitor’s technique during a competition. A dedicated core of race walkers train several times weekly year round and take part in weekly timed 5K events from May through September to maintain or improve their physical and aerobic fitness levels. Many of these dedicated athletes compete in the walking category of the Trail of “98 Klondike International Road Relay.
The sport of snowshoeing is one of the best ways for runners to maintain fitness over the winter. Snowshoeing is one of the traditional sports at the Arctic Winter Games, a high profile circumpolar sport competition for northern and arctic athletes. Athletes must use traditional snowshoes – wood and gut – and traditional footwear – soft leather soled boots called mukluks or kamiks. The traditional snowshoe allows runners to maintain their normal running style with very little need to adjust gait or stride. Snowshoeing, like running, permits a Yukon athlete in the winter to start out their back door with no need for a set track or fixed course to begin their exercise. Those same trails mentioned above are not the only areas available to the snowshoer — if you can squeeze between the trees, you can snowshoe there. Add poles to help with balance and increase your aerobic output. Use modern metal and canvas/poly shoes with cleats and tackle the steeper mountain terrain. Just a caution: ensure that ice is thick enough to support your weight before crossing lakes and rivers and keep your eyes open for overflow!