The origins of the Skeena River Relay

The history of the Skeena River Relay, a 142 km race from Prince Rupert to Terrace.

The Skeena River Relay

The Skeena River Relay used to be a free for all.

There were no rules, just a friendly relay for running enthusiasts who wanted to spend a day chasing each other along the 142 kilometres from Prince Rupert to Terrace.

The unofficial relay began on March 31, 1990 between Rupert Runners and the Skeena Valley Runners Club from Terrace.

“It wasn’t meant to be competitive. It was just meant to be a day out on the river. You know what it’s like,” said one of the founders of the relay, Ray Leonard.

Since there were no rules, when they got tired they could switch out with a fresh pair of legs. Leonard said it could get a bit dangerous at times.

“With a mile to go and people were jumping out of cars. It was fun. We did it a few years like that,” he said.

At first there were only two teams, Prince Rupert versus Terrace. A couple years later Hazleton and Smithers joined in. Leonard said Smithers would bring 30 kids in and they do a mile each and trade off.

While the Skeena relay was meant for fun, Prince Rupert runners put together a competitive relay team for the Jasper-Banff relay. There were 17 stages, formalized with strict rules and a 260-kilometre race that went throughout the night.

The Prince Rupert team placed third in their category in the first attempt. They continued competing for the next five years until the Jasper-Banff relay folded (the race returned in 2004).

To fill the void, the Skeena River Relay was formalized with similar rules to the Jasper-Banff relay but with 10 stages and held on the same day. In 2001, when the first formal version of the relay kicked off, there were 11 team entries and one team came down from Alaska.

The relay has grown each year and easily reaches capacity with 30 team entries. This year is the 15th anniversary and it filled up weeks before the race.

Watch out for runners along Highway 16 on June 4 starting at 7 a.m.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

World Maritime Day – Sept. 24

Sustainable shipping for a sustainable planet

‘Water Quality Advisory’ lifted for Prince Rupert

Some Prince Rupert residents are still under a ‘Boil Water Notice’

Liberals and Greens yet to announce North Coast candidates

North Coast candidates have until two weeks before the election to name contenders

Cullen confirmed as B.C. NDP candidate for Stikine despite party’s equity policy

Former Tahltan Central Government President Annita McPhee said the process made her feel “abused”

BC Liberal Leader talks drug addiction in the Lower Mainland

Drug addiction and public safety a top priority says Andrew Wilkinson

Pandemic derails CP Holiday Train

Canadian Pacific will work to get donations to food banks while also producing an online music concert

Vanderhoof’s Brian Frenkel takes on top job in tough times

We can get through this, new local government leader says

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Local councils important, Horgan says as municipal conference ends

B.C. NDP leader says ‘speed dating’ vital, online or in person

Penticton woman sentenced to one year in prison for manslaughter of teen boyfriend

Kiera Bourque, 24, was sentenced for manslaughter in the 2017 death of Penticton’s Devon Blackmore

B.C. Green leader says NDP abandoning environmental plan

Horgan’s claim of unstable government false, Furstenau says

Transgender B.C. brothers debut fantasy novel as author duo Vincent Hunter

‘Transgender people are being misrepresented in popular fiction and media, and we aim to change that’

Most Read