Yukon 800

Little Red captain Earl Mahler gets his boat ready to start the Ruby Marine Yukon 800 Marathon on June 22 as another participating boat heads out on the Chena River at Pike’s Landing. The Yukon 800 was among four inductees announced Thursday for the 2020 Alaska Sports Hall of Fame. Danny Martin/News-Miner file photo

Harold Attla said it was a matter of time before the Yukon 800 Marathon was inducted into the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame.

That time came Thursday, as the Yukon 800, which is considered the world’s toughest and longest riverboat race, was announced among four inductees for the 2020 class of the ASHOF.

“This is a good birthday present for me because tomorrow, I’m going to turn 55,’’ Attla, a 10-time winner of the Yukon 800, said by phone Wednesday night.

The race goes every Summer Solstice weekend out and back from Fairbanks to Galena along the Chena, Tanana and Yukon rivers. It originated in 1960 as the Arctic Circle Marathon, which went from Circle City to Fairbanks.

In the Yukon 800, the three-person crews — captain, engineer and navigator — of the 24-foot-long wood boats can experience danger and obstacles. Among the challenges along the course are high winds, high waves, rain, hail, fog, blowing sand from river sandbars and smoke from nearby forest fires. 

Many of the participants in the Yukon 800 grew up in communities along the rivers of the race.

“It’s so unique,’’ Attla said. “It’s not so well known as other sports (in Alaska), so I think this kind of gives the organization (Fairbanks Outboard Association) some recognition and boat racers some higher recognition. It’s really special in my racing career to be mentioned among the Alaska elite competitors; it’s just an honor.

“I had no doubt that one day the Yukon 800 would be inducted into the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame.”

The 14th induction ceremony is scheduled for April 28 at the Anchorage Museum. Upon enshrinement, portraits of the inductees will be permanently displayed at the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame Gallery at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.

The Alaska Sports Hall of Fame uses a selection process based on votes from its selection panel, past inductees and the public.

The late Marcie Trent, a running pioneer, and Matt Carle, a standout hockey defenseman, were announced as the people inductees. The University of Alaska Anchorage hockey team’s upset of host Boston College in a second-round game of the 1991 NCAA Division I Tournament is the 2020 inductee for the moments category.

Trent was inducted into the USA Track and Field Masters Hall of Fame in 2001. Among her accomplishments were nine age-group national records, ranging from 800 meters to an ultramarathon, and five age-group world records for a female marathoner in her 60s.

The Anchorage resident also won Fairbanks’ Equinox Marathon three times and remains its oldest women’s champion at 58. 

Carle, also of Anchorage, won the Hobey Baker Award in 2006 and helped Denver University capture Division I national titles in 2004 and 2005. The Hobey Baker Award is the most prestigious individual honor in college hockey.

Carle  played for 12 seasons for four National Hockey League teams — San Jose Sharks, Tampa Bay Lightning, Philadelphia Flyers and Nashville Predators. He reached the Stanley Cup Finals with Philadelphia (2010) and Tampa Bay (2015).

UAA was an Division I independent program when it defeated a Boston College squad, which was a Hockey East conference powerhouse and included Hobey Baker winner David Emma. 

Contact News-Miner sports editor Danny Martin at 459-7586. Follow him on Twitter:@newsminersports

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