The Klondike Trail of ‘98 International Road Relay kicks off Friday in Skagway.
Beginning in the evening, over 30 Juneau relay teams will depart for Whitehorse, Yukon, loosely following the path of thousands of gold seekers during the Klondike Gold Rush. The entire relay takes place on paved highway, and most relay legs are at least 10 miles. Leg 6 is the longest at 16 miles.
Talk to participating teams, and many will tell you it’s not the running that makes the event so special, but the team camaraderie.
“Something funny always happens,” Kym Mauseth, 54, said.
Mauseth has been running in the relay for the last 10 years, and now captains the Chi Trippers, a team of mostly women between the ages of 30-75. The team’s name comes from its member’s practice of ChiRunning, a running style that adopts principles from the Chinese martial art of Tai chi. The “Trippers” part of the name comes from the fact Mauseth’s teammates sometimes trip while training or competing.
“We just have fun spending time together,” Mauseth said. “We’ve never placed; we’re just excited to finish the race.”
Longest Game of Tag Ever, another Juneau squad, will join Chi Trippers in the Open Division.
“This is the first year that we are actually in a division that we have a chance of winning,” LGTE captain Greg Frank said.
Frank’s teams have been in the Mixed Division for the last three years, coming up just short of a title each time. A relay team must have at least three men and three women to enter the Mixed Division.
Frank’s teammates include his brother (Chris), cousin (Elisha Thibodeau) and second-cousin (Kenny Fox), as well as past teammates. Seth Tucker, his anchor-leg runner, was a cross-country teammate of his at Ithaca College, and is driving to Skagway from the East Coast. Practically the entire team is alumni of the Juneau-Douglas High School cross-country program, Frank said.
“The support, the positivity, just the competitiveness of the whole thing really made it feel like a team,” Frank said of his first race in 2010.
Participating in the Corporate Division will be CAVITY SEARHC. The team is made up of dental staff from the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium, according to team member Dr. Rhett Berg. The Corporate Division requires that 50 percent of the team work at the same place.
Berg is new to the team this year and one of about five dentists on the team. When Berg interviewed for his job in October, the race was brought up to him, and he was immediately interested.
“I’m not trying to qualify for the Olympics or anything like that,” Berg, 35, an avid runner, said. “We’re just going up to run and have a good time.”
• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or firstname.lastname@example.org.