Snow and rain greet challenge racers
Second Valdez Summit to Sound athletes defy weather
Tony Gorman photo
Snow and rain on Thompson Pass did not deter stout-hearted athletes from skiing, biking, kayaking then running in Sunday’s Summit to Sound Challenge.
No pea soup fog or delays held up this year’s Valdez Summit to Sound Challenge. Instead, ninety racers from Valdez and out-of-town were met with good’ ole fashioned Valdez weather -complete with blowing snow on Thompson Pass and rain in town. When the weather cleared and the sun came out, two individuals and two teams were crowned the new champions of the four-legged adventure race. The race includes cross country skiing (Nordic) or downhill snowboarding or skiing (Alpine), biking, kayaking, and running.
Wes Tibbetts took the top spot in the Nordic Solo Division. He finished the course in a 2:45:37. The Anchorage resident took care of two of things that he always wanted to do: Visit Valdez and do an endurance race. He said he didn’t have much of a strategy going into the race.
“I enjoyed all four facets of the race,” Tibbetts said. “The snow and rain definitely added to the complications, certainly. I was really cramping up at certain points, but just tried to keep on and keep pushing.”
Patrik Sartz came in second with a time of 2:54:38. Andrew Cyr placed third with a time of 2:54:52.
The Ginga Ninjas claimed the Nordic Team Division with a time of 3:40:54. The Valdez-based Asshats came in second at 3:43:16. The team called 65 Below came in third with a time of 4:00:40
Last year, the first leg of the Alpine Division was cancelled due to foggy condition. In the first year of having all four legs in the competition, a rookie emerged victorious in the Solo Division. In his first adventure race ever, Fairbanks man Eric Milan took first place with a time of 3:04:24.
“The camaraderie is spectacular,” Milan said. “I think it was a great way to experience my first race.”
Milan’s only race experience is running a 5K in Fairbanks. He borrowed a friend’s bike and rented a kayak in order to compete in the event.
Spencer Lewley was the runner-up with a time of 3:08:27. Rae Stevenson was third with a time of 3:12:22.
In the team division, Anchorage’s Team Live Badass was the top team with a time of 2:21:47. Member Peter Morris competed in last year’s event and was glad to have the opportunity to compete in the first leg of the Alpine Division.
“It was good,” Morris said. “It was pretty soft going up and down, a little shorter than expected.”
Teammate Brendon Gallant also didn’t expect such a fast start.
“When I was told that Peter was coming down the mountain, I was taking my clothing off,” Gallant said. “He came down quicker than I thought. I got a good warm-up of about 20 feet. I when I finally hit the gas the next thing I know it’s five miles to go. I put it into big gear and try to do what I can to make up any time.”
The team cites those legs as keys to its success.
Tony Gorman photo
Bart Hinkle from the Valdez plice team rings the bell at the finish line located at the Kelsey Dock during Saturday's race.
The Rolling Blackouts of Anchorage rolled to a second place finish with a 2:38:31. The Bare Necessities finished third with a time of 2:49:16.
Now in its second year, the race was first organized by Valdez women Magdalena McCay, Holly Powers and Meg Weaver. Chris Moulton created its website and the group forged ahead this year without Powers.
“The idea of creating the Valdez Summit to Sound Race came when my son Ben, who participated in the ‘Ski to Sea’ race in Washington, what a great race,” Weaver said on the group’s website. “I started thinking ,why should they have all the fun – Valdez has mountains, lakes, trails and even an ocean to make an amazing race course as well – and Alaska is bigger, grander and more pristine. And I never looked back.”