My relay team goes by the name “Alaska Golddiggers,” because race officials frown on us calling ourselves the more accurate “Team Shitshow.”

For a group of otherwise competent women, we’ve managed to screw up a lot during our annual participation in the Klondike Trail of ’98 International Road Relay, a 10-leg, 175-kilometer race that follows the trail of the gold rush stampeders from Skagway, Alaska to Whitehorse, Yukon. Past oopsies include failing to renew passports on time, forgetting our running shoes, traveling with 11 people on an RV that sleeps 8, misestimating the correct start time so our final runner doesn’t have a finish line to cross, and filling the RV’s holding tank to capacity and then some. (Glad you asked — why yes, that is as gross it sounds!)

Half of the team in 2010. If I recall correctly, the ‘K’ in ‘YUKON’ is slightly crooked because we accidentally pulled it off the sign.

We’ve always planned the event either via email or our Facebook group, which worked OK, although details always inevitably fell through the cracks. This year we switched to Basecamp, and the consensus was that planning went much more smoothly. (Full disclosure: Basecamp sponsored us this year, so I didn’t have to work too hard to convince anyone to get on board. Thanks Basecamp!)
We used a to-do list to discuss and assign race legs — they vary from 9 kilometers but steep to 25.6 kilometers but relatively flat. Another to-do list helped determine what everyone would bring to the pre-race washers tourney fundraiser, and yet another served as our packing list. (Item #1: Passport!!!)

We used the hell out of discussions, and it was so nice to have everything in once place, to refer back to: Who is bringing camp chairs? Don’t buy mint; I have some in my garden! What is everyone’s drivers license number to provide to the RV rental company? No, don’t make hummus; we always bring a ton and no one ever eats it.

“I think one one of the coolest things about this year was just how absolutely stress-free everything was,” one teammate said. “I think a lot of the advanced communication set us up to understand our boundaries, how things would work, and to get to know each other in some cases. When it came time for the actual road trip it was like pushing play and just sitting back.”

Perhaps much of that is that after six Klondikes we’ve begun to learn from our mistakes, but Basecamp also definitely helped everyone stay on the same page. We still emailed and texted a bit, but for everything we needed a record of, it went in Basecamp. Of course there were still a few bumps in the road — we neglected to outfit our leg #1 runner with a timing chip; we got rained on a little. Whatever. We still had a blast, and it was the easiest, most relaxed trip we’ve had to date.
And no one felt guilty wasting any hummus.