Outdoor Running Adventures

Running in northern BC with my dog Kobi


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12 Days of Yukon – The Prequel

Greetings after a long absence!

This post is the prequel to even more posts (to follow later) about my summer adventures while travelling in the Yukon and Northwest Territories.  But first, I need to set things up for you so you know how it all began.

About 22 months ago I decided I wanted to take some time away from work.  My employer has a “Deferred Salary Program”.  They deduct 10-35% of your salary each pay cheque and after X number of months you have saved up enough to take 6 to 12 months off while receiving full pay.  I went for it.  Well, it wasn’t as simple as “I went for it”, but I’m trying to keep the word count manageable.

It took me 1 year and 7 months of deductions to save enough to take 6 months off work starting June 1.  What’s kind of significant about this date is that it’s the month before I turn half a century.  It’s also the same time that Kobi, my intrepid wing-girl, turns half a century in dog years.  We will be 50 together for 3 months of Kobi’s life.  How cool is that.

During the last three months of work I was doing some loose planning about things I’d like to do while off.  Mostly I just wanted to not work, which really seemed to surprise people when they asked what my plans were.  You see, I’ve never really liked “working”, but because I like wearing Arc’teryx clothes and insist on driving a Jeep (yes, I drive a Jeep because cool outdoorsy people drive Jeeps), I need an income to support these habits.  I’d love it if I could get paid tons of money to showcase my average running skills with my epically cool Rez dog, but unfortunately being average doesn’t draw the attention of high paying sponsorships.  I’m also not particularly entrepreneurial or highly driven so I’ve never landed a job that didn’t feel like work.  I do have a job that I like so I’m not going to complain, besides, they let you take this much time off and still have a job when you come back!

I’ve digressed.  Besides planning on doing whatever I felt like (after waking up WITHOUT an alarm), I thought maybe a trip to the arctic would be cool.  I told my arctic plan to my partner (who didn’t even have a passport at the time and who I will refer to as Mr X from here on in) and he said that sounded cool and he’d like to go with me.  I was somewhat relieved as I figured it would be me and Kobi sleeping in a tent and occasionally getting a motel.  The thought of sleeping in a tent is fine and dandy, if it remains a thought.  When you’re 50, sleeping in a tent is a sleepless painful night of moving from your back, to left side, to stomach, to right side and back onto your back every 5 minutes as there is no air mattress that can offer comfort to an oldish, somewhat arthritic body.  Don’t even get me going if it should happen to rain.  

I’ve digressed again.  Now that Mr X was on board, we decided a travel trailer was the way to go.  Nothing big, just something practical with a toilet.  A toilet was mandatory.  Pooping in an outhouse is something that has lost it’s appeal – can’t say that has ever been appealing.  Mr X spent weeks researching and we landed on a 16.5’ Forest River, No Boundaries.  It looks outdoorsy and the Jeep could tow it.  

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I thought Kobi would love the trailer

10 days before the planned departure date, the Jeep went to the shop for some minor tweaks for the big trip and sure enough they discovered the entire rear end needed replacing.  That took 9 days to fix and cost a quarter of what the trailer cost.  Off to a good start.  With one day remaining before the big departure, we got the Jeep back and noticed the Jeep didn’t have the right towing electrical plug thingy that would fit the trailer. Plan B, take the one ton dodge diesel.

What you may not be aware of, thanks to my blogging delinquency, is that Kobi has developed some pretty significant travel anxiety.  If you follow me on Instagram (@outdoorrunning) you may be aware of Kobi’s anxiety.  It all started last August, I won’t bore you with the details of the circumstances that led up to it, that’s another blog (or two).  As a result of her anxiety and because my amazing dog sitter/cat sitter/garden waterer was available, Kobi stayed home.  

Now you are all up to date on the events that lead up to the start of the arctic adventure. Stay tuned for the next 12 posts about the actual trip to the Yukon (and NWT). Looking back, I honestly didn’t know travelling could be this “exciting”.

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Kobi says, “no way am I going with you on this trip human.”
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Yukon River Trail Half Marathon

I agreed to do the above mentioned race with a friend (we put it on the race plan about 10 months ago).  It’s held on the first Sunday in August in Whitehorse, Yukon Territories.  It’s only a 950km drive from where I live.

The week before the race I said screw driving that far and decided to fly.  Not totally smart as I can only afford to fly using air miles on short notice and there weren’t many flight options available last-minute.  I ended up driving 390 km to the next closest airport, flew 1.5 hours to Vancouver and then flew 2.5 hours back north to Whitehorse.  I was at least on the same flight as my partner in crime.

Leaving on a jet plane

Leaving on a jet plane

We got in very late Friday night.   Saturday we did a little run along the trail in town (where I met Creepy Barbie) and spent the rest of the day checking out Whitehorse.  Sunday was race day.

creepy barbie was stuck in the fence along the trail

Creepy Barbie was stuck in the fence along the trail

Whitehorse, Yukon

Downtown Whitehorse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The event hosts a full marathon, relay marathon and half marathon – all on trails, single track goat trails to be precise.

Most of the folks running this one are locals and the entire event is capped at 325.  There were 100 people in the half marathon.

This is me trying to look cool pre-race.  I haven't quite figured out how to look cool.

This is me trying to look cool pre-race, or like Captain Morgan

The half didn’t start until 10AM.  It’s a gun start and not really chip timed.  You get this little plastic thing you have to dip into a  reader when you cross the finish line.  Not good as my hands don’t work well after I run so I was pretty sure I’d drop it (spoiler alert, I didn’t).

I placed myself up front with the fast folks as why the heck not.  There were some really fast folks there.  One girl up front was maybe 5 feet tall and 85 lbs of fastness.  I saw her doing a warm-up, holy fast Batman.  She ran the half in 1:35 so that tells you how challenging the course was.  She looked like she could run a 1:15 on a road.

The first bit was on paved trail, then some road and then you hit the single track.  People were incredibly polite about passing.  The second half of the race was really hard.  Some seriously steep sections (up and down and I suck at downhill).

I didn’t take photos as taking your eyes off the goat trail along the cliffs and through the woods would have resulted in a face plant or fall off the side of a mountain into a cold lake below.  I also would’ve likely taken a wrong turn and would still be running out there as you had to pay attention to the trail markers (flagging tape).

Cool side note:  If any of you Canadians watched the Amazing Race Canada Tuesday, the bridge the contestants run across at the end of the show is the bridge I ran across in my race.

I finished in a decent time (I think) as I was the fifth chic in and first in my age group (there were 20 in my age group).  It took me 1:58:44.

The finishing medals are really cool.

The medals are made from pottery.  Very cool.

The medals are made from pottery.

Post race, I pigged out at McDonald’s (I just looked at the food as carbs and protein, that’s how I justified it, plus it was close to the hotel).  A little while later we made our way back into town – walking slowly – to find a place to eat dinner.  We ended up at a pub called the Dirty Northern Bastard.  It sounded too good to pass up.

We left the next morning on a 5:55AM flight back to Vancouver, then I flew back to where I started and drove 4 hours back home.  And I saw a grizzly bear on the drive – cool!

I am totally in love with Whitehorse, it’s so beautiful!  The people are so nice too.  It’s kind of like Hawaii, but in the north and obviously colder and no palm trees.  I think it’s more the feel of the place that made me think of Hawaii, laid back and everyone totally wants to be there.  I want to be there.

Ever been to Whitehorse?  Do Barbie’s freak you out?  What’s the coolest medal you’ve received at a race?  What’s the weirdest name of a pub you’ve been to?  Have you seen a grizzly bear in the wild?

 

Yukon River Trail Half Marathon