‘The worst year ever’: Lost Lake runners endure nearly 16 miles of rain, mud

Around 600 competitors faced what the race director called the wettest edition of the race in its 32 years.

LOST LAKE — The trail turned to a rushing stream for long stretches of the nearly 16-mile Lost Lake Run on Saturday. The race director called it the rainiest edition on record for an event in its 32nd year.

The Lost Lake Run — traditionally held in the second half of August — brings avid runners and newcomers alike to a picturesque route just north of Seward stretching from Primrose Lake to Bear Creek. This year, even an atmospheric river couldn’t keep around 600 runners away.

Race director Patrick Simpson was emphatic when he said Saturday’s weather was the worst in the race’s history.

“Alaskans are the toughest people you’ll ever meet, and today is representative of that,” said Simpson, who for 17 years has been at the helm of the event that serves as a fundraiser for those living with cystic fibrosis. This year, they raised $265,000.

Runners were greeted with rain thick enough to obscure views, mud quick to soak through shoes and socks, and the red-and-golden hints in the alpine underbrush that fall is, in fact, nearly here.

“The worst year ever. This is that year. So we got that year out of the way, so we can move on to much better years,” said Simpson.

The mud and rain could easily have made for a scary day on the mountain. But Simpson said at the conclusion of the event — as the final runners were streaming through the finish line — that injuries were “bumps and scrapes — nothing major.”

“I think we actually had more difficulty in a hot year with overheating than we had this year,” said Simpson.


That mud and rain also meant winning times were slower than in years past. The winning man — Jason Parks of Kenai — came in at 1:53, far below the record of 1:36. The winning woman, Jessica Vetsch of Anchorage, came in at 2:08.

Amy Holman, a member of the Anchorage Nordic Ski Patrol, spent the day on the race course. Eight members of the ski patrol provided support to runners along the route with snacks, water, and first aid.

The race had a rolling start — meaning runners could choose their own starting time Saturday morning — and the winners were only known later in the day, not necessarily by the order in which they came through the finish line at the Bear Creek Fire Station. For volunteers like Holman, that meant several hours on the wet trail — staying until the last of the runners had passed.

“We’re here to help everyone have a good time,” Holman said. “We’re here for everybody, whether they’re the frontrunner or the folks walking and celebrating.”

Andrea Morrow stopped at the midway point of the race near Lost Lake — sandwiched between peaks and fields dotted with late-blooming flowers — to clear a rock from her shoe. Her clothes, like those of most everyone, were already long soaked by the driving rain.

It was Morrow’s second time running the race.

“The weather was a little nicer last time, but I love it,” she said.

Colleen Peterson, Penny Agnew, and Karen Keesecker, 15-year veterans of the race, took it at a walking pace. They said they had achieved what they called “legendary” status, which comes with a perk: guaranteed admission to the race, skipping the otherwise required fundraising threshold or lottery.

The longtime participants confirmed the day had been “by far the wettest” they had experienced on the trail. But as always, beer and burgers awaited at the finish line.

“They do that every year — but hot tea sounds better today,” Agnew said.

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Lost Lake Run


Women’s top 10


1. Jessica Vetsch, Anchorage, 2:08:08; 2. Julianne Dickerson, Anchorage, 2:15:37; 3. Megan Murphy, Anchorage, 2:16:23; 4. Shauna Severson, Eagle River, 2:16:36; 5. Kianna Wika, Anchorage, 2:16:45; 6. Amanda Cherok, Homer, 2:22:12; 7. Sarah Freistone, Anchorage, 2:23:04; 8. Lisa Anglen, Anchorage, 2:24:08; 9. Sam Longacre, Anchorage, 2:24:29; 10. Mandy Vincent-Lang, Anchorage, 2:25:01.

Men’s top 10

1. Jason Parks, Kenai, 1:53:40; 2. Patrick Conway, Anchorage, 1:57:12; 3. Eric Vilce, Anchorage, 1:57:43; 4. Levi DeBoard, Seward, 1:58:02; 5. Todd Jackson, Anchorage, 2:04:01; 6. Jeffrey Young, Anchorage, 2:07:24; 7. Willie Stoll, Anchorage, 2:07:33; 8. Eric Mortensen, Anchorage, 2:07:35; 9. Warren Hancock, Anchorage, 2:08:03; 10. Craig Taylor, Eagle River, 2:09:09.

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Iris Samuels

Iris Samuels is a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News focusing on state politics. She previously covered Montana for The AP and Report for America and wrote for the Kodiak Daily Mirror. Contact her at isamuels@adn.com.

Marc Lester

Marc Lester is a multimedia journalist for Anchorage Daily News. Contact him at mlester@adn.com.