Juneau rocks the Klondike relays

Local teams win first-place titles in four-of-five divisions

Posted: Wednesday, September 14, 2005

On the surface, it's just a 108-mile stretch of land that connects Skagway to Whitehorse in the Yukon Territory.

To local runners, however, the land represents an athletic Mecca. The Klondike Trail of '98 International Road Relay is the premier event for runners throughout Southeast Alaska, British Columbia and the Yukon.

This year, 126 teams from throughout the United States and Canada competed in the 23rd annual race.

Of those 126 teams, 33 of them called Juneau or Douglas Island home.

The local area also showed its dominance on the course, as four different local teams captured overall titles in the 108-mile, 10-leg race.

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Lady GuDiva won the women's masters race in 13 hours, 20 minutes and 5 seconds, the fastest female time in the entire race. The team is a confederation of women from throughout the country, but mainly based in the Juneau-Douglas area.

Dawn Walsh, Lisa Kirsch, Deborah Rudis, Debbie Groves and Juneau-Douglas High School cross country coach Merry Ellefson comprised the local portion of Lady GuDiva. The team also featured Sue McCarthy of San Diego, Christine Kennedy of Los Gatos, Calif., Gina Mandy of Sacramento, Vancouver's Leslie Black and Anchorage's Ruth Barnet.

The team enjoyed a number of outstanding individual finishes, as eight of the 10 team members finished in the top three for their particular leg.

Ellefson ended the race by winning the 10th and final leg. By winning her leg, she finished first in each leg of the Klondike over a nine-year span.

The Juneau team of Hard Women Are Good To Find captured the open women's title with an overall time of 15 hours, 4 minutes and 44 seconds, nearly 20 minutes better than the second-place team. They were also the second-fastest, all-female team in the race.

The team featured Juneau residents Leah Magowan, Shelly Saviers, Kim Janelle, Heather Johnson-Smith, Caro Rosier-Polley, Nancy Potts, Heidi Lingle, Heather Conway and Carol Johnson. Anchorage's Debi English also raced with the Hard Women.

Juneau also captured the mixed championship as Vestigial Appendages completed the 108-mile stretch in 12 hours and 35 minutes.

Juneau's Tracy Rivera, Joann Quigg, Jamie Bursell, Ken Maas, Robert Sowers, Kim Rivera, Dave Pusich and John Walsh all raced for the Appendages, as did Sitka's Gary Smith and Ketchikan's Sue Doherty.

In the master's men's division, Juneau's legendary Smokin' Ole Geezers ran away from the competition by completing the course in 12 hours, 32 minutes and 6 seconds. That time was the fourth-fastest overall time in the competition.

The Geezers were led by Juneau's Andy Grossman, Steve Davis, Keith Levy, Brian Goettler, John Bursell, Rick Thibodeau, Bob Marshall and Glenn Frick. The team also featured Al Graves from Sutherland, Ore., and Jim Douglas from New Market, Va.

• Tim Nichols, sports editor, can be reached at sports@juneauempire.com

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