Playing the Lottery: With our feet...and psyches!
The Klondike Road Relay is an event that captures the imagination of over a thousand people every year. For some, it’s a chance to stride effortlessly at sub six minutes per mile towards shadows and tail-lights in the distance en route to winning the overall title. For others, the goal is to keep from being passed by one of these shadowy and short-shorted cyborgs intent on winning the overall title!
For many, the goal is just to run and complete their legs. The culmination of a summer’s training - and dreaming. But for everyone, the relay is a celebration of sport, health, team, and community.
So if this event is really about the joy of running and reaching goals, with a little personal and/or group competitiveness thrown in just to keep some people focused, what would motivate a team to make the race exponentially harder? Isn’t racing uphill for six miles or running 26 kilometres in the thick of night hard enough?
What would compel an entire team to stay up all night long, unaware of what leg each member is running, until the very moment the previous runner reaches the transition line? What kind of sadistic group of psychos would train all summer for not one leg, but the potential of running any one of the ten legs at any moment between 11pm and noon the next day?
Who in their right mind would PAY money to wait “on the line” for the first nine legs, just to find out that he or she is running the final 21 km. into Whitehorse?
This is crazy!
This is ridiculous!
This is medieval!
This is what our team – On the Line 6/49 – decided to do one year for the Klondike Road Relay.
After years of dressing up like ‘80s rock stars, pirates, and superheroes, the staff team from Vanier school and their spouses and good friends, decided that spending a night together in a motor home and running almost a half marathon each on average wouldn’t be enough to satiate their thirst for athletic salvation. Instead, a change was needed. A change that would set the standard for middle-aged athletes attempting to do something that could be talked about at staff parties and running events for years to come - maybe even ten.
With the help of one volunteer who would randomly select the runners for each leg and then register the team, team members would stay ignorant of their preselected legs until the very moment the previous runner crosses the transition line.
Though our overall time that year is lost somewhere on the web amidst thousands of paces, bib numbers, and punny team names, the memories and excitement of the night will remain etched in our collective memories. Every year we look forward to reminiscing with teammates and interested listeners, basking in our runs as we slowly continue to take minutes off our supposed times while adding more degrees of pain to our overall experience that night.
This year, we’ll be Hurry(ing) Hard! in our curling sweaters and stretchy pants, with brooms in one hand and beer and cigs in the other. And though we look forward to paying tribute to one of our country’s national sports (curling, not beer-drinking…though if you’re from Nova Scotia…), we will naturally compare the runner highs and the temperature lows that come with a night out in the Skagway pass.
While we work hard to fight fatigue and make it look like we’re running smoothly in spite of cramps and a lack of training, in the back of our minds – like every year - we’ll be comparing our present race and efforts to the challenge that we faced that fateful/frightful night as we put our fitness, comfort zones, and patience on the line…as we gathered on the line…over and over again.
The members of On the Line 6/49 (in order of their legs run): Sylvie Hamel, Denise Chisholm, Jane Londero, Amanda Deuling, Mark Connell, Maura Sullivan, Jud Deuling, David Michayluk, Sean McCarron, and Michelle Rigoni.