Abby Rideout picked up a nice little paycheck on her day off Saturday -- and she looked like she barely had to break a sweat to earn it, which is beyond remarkable given she claimed $325 in prize money by winning the Crow Pass Crossing, a taxing and torturous marathon-length race through Chugach State Park.
"Usually I'm bloody," Rideout said. "I did OK this year."
She did more than OK, winning the 24-mile wilderness marathon in 3 hours, 50 minutes, 54.8 seconds -- the fastest time by a woman since Julie Udchachon's 3:48 in 2003.
Men who ran about the same pace as Rideout said she was able to talk through most of the race, which means she wasn't oxygen-deprived as she pushed herself to a personal best.
And in a race that serves up poisonous plants and faceplants on a wilderness trail populated by bees, bears and Bullwinkles, Rideout's journey was absent the adventures experienced by most runners.
"I didn't see any wildlife," she said. "I fell a couple of times at a little stream crossing, but it wasn't bad."
Rideout, a 30-year-old ICU nurse at Providence Alaska Medical Center, placed 27th overall and was nine minutes ahead of second-place Jaime Bronga, an All-American skier at UAA.
But Rideout had no clue she was winning the women's race until she reached the top of 2,000-foot Crow Pass, which comes at the start of the race at the Crow Pass Trailhead near Girdwood.
"Finishing first wasn't in my frame of thought until somebody said, 'You're the first girl.' Mentally I still wanted to keep going hard, but it's a difficult place to be, to know you're the first-place girl -- every time you hear footsteps behind you, you think, is that a boy or a girl?" Rideout said.
By being the first to the top of the pass, Rideout won a $75 bonus. By being the first to Eagle River, about midway through the race, she won $100. By being the first to the finish line, she collected $150.
The only premium she didn't win was the $200 bonus for a course record, and history indicates that prize might not ever be claimed. Nancy Pease set the women's record of 3:26 in 1990, and while Pease racked up a number of sub 3:40 times, only one other woman -- 1994 champion Nina Kemppel, who won in 3:36 -- has also broken the 3:40 mark.
Rideout, who placed third in last year's race, arrived at the Eagle River Nature Center finish line a little dirty but looking otherwise fresh, needing no time to catch her breath. She said she usually doesn't feel the affects of Crow Pass until two days later.
Bronga finished with a twisted ankle, which she nursed with a bag of ice. She hurt her foot going up Crow Pass and ran the rest of the race in pain.
"It was good for me to try to push through that," said Bronga, the only other woman to finish in less than four hours. "This race wasn't about times or places, it was about pushing limits and having a good time."
Find Beth Bragg online at adn.com/contact/bbragg or call 257-4335.
By BETH BRAGG