Saturday, May 19, 2012

1987 Pre-Race Article

Check out this article from the Fairbanks newspaper 25 years ago just before the 1987 race.  It has some background info about some of the racers who ran the earlier races.  These guys were tough.  I had to cut out part of the article because of copyright considerations but I left in the relevant stuff.  

The Alaska Mountain and Wilderness Classic is not for the Weak of Heart. 
August 18, 1987

In fact, some say you have to be crazy and insane to even attempt participating in the grueling 235 mile race from Mentasta Lake to the Denali Park Hotel. 

The third annual Wilderness classic will start at 9 a.m. Saturday at Mentasta village.  Race organizer Roman Dial, who also will participate in the event, expects the winner to reach the finish line in about five days. 

In the wilderness Classic each participant must find his way to the finish line without the help of any motorized vehicles or pack animals. 

Generally, there are two different routes a person can take to reach the finish line.  One involves travelling through swamps and valleys while the other includes crossing several glaciers. 

No matter which route a participant takes they must negotiate the treacherous Nenana River to reach the finish line. 

Once the race starts, the only checkpoints are at Fielding Lake and at the Nenana River.  If racers decide to follow a different route they must tell the race marshal of their intentions prior to the start. 

This year’s Classic is actually split into two different events-a “short” jaunt of about 100-miles to Fielding Lake and the annual 235 mile race to Denali Park. 

Two time defending champion Hank Timm of Anchorage heads the field for this year’s race.  He holds the course record of five days and 23 hours. 

Dial and Dave Manzer of Nelchina, who crossed the finish line together in second place last year, are also entered along with Adrian Crane of Ohio and Tom Possert of California, who also crossed the finish line together in fourth place. 

Possert and Crane are both considered ultramarathoners.  Crane has run from the floor of Death Valley in California to the summit of Mt. Whitney. 

Others expected to be at the starting line are Fairbanks runner-mountaineer Dave Dixson, Dave Innis another ultramarathoner from California, Howard Akens of Ohio, David Poppe of Delta Junction, UAF rifle coach Randy Pitney and 60 year old dick Griffith of Anchorage.  Dick was the guy who introduced us to pack-rafting in Alaska,” Dial said. 

Contestants will be competing for a variety of prizes including a four pound Sherpa packraft and a half ounce gold nugget donated by the Gold Prospectors Association of America. 

As of Wednesday, there were three competitors expected to compete in the shorter 100 mile race.  They are Claire Holland of Delta Junction, Bruce Bench of Eielson Air Force Base and Bruce Smith of Anchorage. 

The race has been cleared by the Bureau of Land Management. 

The rules for the race are fairly simple.  All travel must be self-propelled and self contained.  In other words, each competitor must carry everything needed from start to finish without the benefit of pre-planned caches or aid stations. 

Racers may not use any portion o the Alaska Highway system with the exception of that portion of the Parks Highway between McKinley Village and the first Parks Highway Bridge crossing of the Nenana River downstream of Riley Creek. 

Littering is grounds for disqualification.  Purposefully dropping gear is considered littering. 

All racers must reach the Fielding Lake checkpoint by 9 a.m. Aug. 19 or they will be disqualified.  Those competing in the longer race also must check in at the Nenana River by 2 p.m., Aug. 22 or they will be disqualified.  All racers must reach the finish line by 6 p.m. Aug. 23. 

All participants dropping out of either event are required to notify appropriate race personnel. 

There will a post-race banquet at 2 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 23 at the McKinley Denali Salmon Bake at 238.5 Mile Parks Highway.  The banquet is free to race participants and checkpoint personnel.  There will be a $10 charge for all others wishing to attend. 

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