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Norris, Yeaton fastest racers up Bird Ridge

  • Author: Matt Tunseth, Alaska Star
  • Updated: June 19
  • Published June 17

David Norris (1) and Luke Jager (6) leave the start during the Robert Spurr Memorial Hill Climb up Bird Ridge on Sunday, June 17, 2018. Norris broke his 2016 course record by 7 seconds reaching the summit finish 36:58. Jager finished the uphill race in third place. (Bill Roth / ADN)

Last in, first up.

A pair of late additions to the field at the Robert Spurr Memorial Hill Climb took home titles Sunday as Anchorage's David Norris and Jessica Yeaton turned the brutal 3,400-foot march up Bird Ridge into a breeze.

"I actually felt like I was struggling," said Norris, the 2016 champion who broke his own course record by eight seconds by finishing in 36 minutes, 58 seconds, to become the first racer to break the 37-minute mark.

Norris said he has been training on Eagle Glacier with the APU nordic ski team and didn't think his legs were fresh. But after dropping Luke Jager less than 10 minutes into the race, Norris had the hill to himself.

"I ran more and hiked less," he said. "That's usually a good sign."

David Norris nears the finish line atop Bird Ridge in the Robert Spurr Memorial Hill Climb on Sunday, June 17, 2018. Norris broke his own record in the race, becoming the first person to break the 37-minute mark by racing up the 3,400-foot mountain in 36 minutes, 58 seconds. (Photo by Matt Tunseth/Anchorage Daily News)

Norris said he tried to stay on the balls of his feet and take quick, bouncy steps to propel himself up the steep hillside.

"I was trying to stay kinda light," he said.

Adam Jensen finished second in 39:05, with Jager third in 41:17. Defending champion Scott Patterson was forced to skip the race due to a toe injury suffered recently in training.

Yeaton crushed it in her second appearance in the race, turning in a winning time of 44:48 — slower than just one woman in the race's 30-year history. Alaska mountain-running legend Nancy Pease still owns the three fastest times in race history, including the record 42:27 set in 1993.

Palmer's Christy Marvin was second in 45:02, with Anchorage's Denali Strabel third in 47:42.

Race director Brad Precosky said Norris and Yeaton were added to the field on race day. Both athletes are elite nordic skiers and mountain runners who train with the APU nordic ski team, and they're no strangers to high-level competition: Norris holds the Mount Marathon record while Yeaton skied for Australia in the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Anchorage’s Jessica Yeaton nears the top of Bird Ridge during the Robert Spurr Memorial Hill Climb on Sunday, June 17, 2018. Yeaton won the women’s division in 44 minutes, 48 seconds. (Photo by Matt Tunseth/Anchorage Daily News)

Racers were blasted by gusty winds throughout the race, but the trail was dry and competitors said the wind actually helped by propelling them from behind and keeping them from overheating.

"It was really good conditions," Yeaton said. "The wind was actually not that bad at all, it cools you down."

Yeaton and four-time champ Marvin dueled for much of the race, with Yeaton pulling away on the final ridge line. She said she nearly made her move too early, amping up the pace on one of the ridge's false summits.

"I started to push a hill too early," she said.

The move turned out to be good enough to win, with Yeaton earning a 12-second victory.

The fast times weren't limited to the winners, as Chugiak's Michael Connelly set a new 17-and-under record by finishing fifth in 41:40 and Barney Griffith destroyed the men's 60-69 record in 46:20 — six minutes faster than the previous age-group mark.

Anchorage's Aven Elsberg won the boys race in 24:06, with Eagle River's Llily Slatonbarker taking the girls title in 26:56. This year's junior race (which goes roughly halfway to the top) was renamed "Jack's Run" in honor of Jack Cooper, a 16-year-old who was killed by a black bear after completing the junior race last year. This year's event included additional security and safety personnel out on the course. Despite the measures, there were a couple reports of black bears near the trail, with one spotted near the starting line and a sow with a cub seen near the midway point. However, there were no reports of any dangerous encounters with the bruins.

Cooper's mother, Katrina Garner, said the event proved to be a happy day for the family.

"It was nice to be back under different circumstances and to have so many people helping," said Garner, who accompanied her son Jason up the junior race trail.

Garner said she heard about at least one bear near the trail but said dealing with the animals is just part of living in Alaska.

"That's the reality of this place, there's bears in the woods," she said.

Katrina Garner embraces Rose Garner prior to the start of the Robert Spurr Memorial Hill Climb on Sunday, June 17, 2018. Their son Patrick “Jack” Cooper was fatality mauled by a black bear after last years race. (Bill Roth / ADN)

Garner said the kids in Jack's Run kept their cool and didn't let the reports rattle them.

"They stuck together and just ran right through the trail," she said.

Garner said she was touched by the kind words of the many volunteers and spectators who turned out for the popular mountain race.

"Everybody being nice and supportive and the extra help on the mountain and everybody having a positive attitude was good," she said. "And several people said nice things to us, which was really nice."

Email Matt  Tunseth at editor@alaskastar.com or call (907) 257-4274. Daily News sports editor Beth Bragg and photographer Bill Roth contributed to this story.
Robert Spurr Memorial Hill Climb

Family members of Patrick “Jack” Cooper who was fatality mauled by a black bear after last years Robert Spurr Memorial Hill Climb attended this year’s race on Sunday, June 17, 2018. From left, Jack’s mother Katrina Garner, step-brother Matthew These, 18, father Dave Cooper, and brothers Jesse Cooper, 15, and Jason Cooper, 12, who handed out t-shirts with the new name of the junior race “Jack’s Run.” (Bill Roth / ADN)

Men

1. David Norris, Anchorage, AK 36:58 2. Adam Jensen, Anchorage, AK 39:05 3. Luke Jager, Anchorage, AK 41:17 4. Matthew Novakovich, Anchorage, AK 41:29 5. Michael Connelly, Chugiak, AK 41:40 6. Seiji Takagi, Anchorage, AK 42:03 7. Erik Johnson, Seward, AK 42:20 8. Derek Steele, Anchorage, AK 42:42 9. Lyon Kopsack, Palmer, AK 42:46 10. Ben Marvin, Palmer, AK 42:48 11. Christopher Kirk, Eagle River, AK 43:25 12. Will Ross, Anchorage, AK 44:26 13. Hamish Wolfe, Anchorage, AK 45:05 14. Ben Ward, Anchorage, AK 45:15 15. Franklin Dekker, Anchorage, AK 45:30 16. Brian Kirchner, Anchorage, AK 45:33 17. Gavin Block, Palmer, AK 45:50 18. Daniel Kane, Anchorage, AK 46:05 19. Mike Monterusso, Anchorage, AK 46:06 20. Barney Griffith, Anchorage, AK 46:20 21. Craig Taylor, Eagle River, AK 46:24 22. Everett Cason, Anchorage, AK 47:11 23. Patrick Wolfe, Anchorage, AK 47:18 24. Kai Meyers, Anchorage, AK 47:22 25. Ryan Beckett, Anchorage, AK 47:40 26. Kelemen legate, Anchorage, AK 47:48 27. Robert Whitney, Anchorage, AK 47:51 28. Jacob Bradley, JBER, AK 47:54 29. Chris Smith, Palmer, AK 47:57 30. Tom Bronga, Anchorage, AK 48:08 31. Kevin Donley, Anchorage, AK 48:09 32. Paul Butera, Anchorage, AK 48:28 33. Isaac Bertschi, Anchorage, AK 48:52 34. Michael Earnhart, Eagle River, AK 48:53 35. Westley Dahlgren, Anchorage, AK 48:59 36. David Berg, Anchorage, AK 49:32 37. Nick Carl, Eagle River, AK 49:34 38. Mark Brady, Anchorage, AK 49:42 39. Tony Slatonbarker, Eagle River, AK 49:51 40. Alex Loan, Anchorage, AK 50:24 41. John Weddleton, Anchorage, AK 50:28 42. Dante Petri, Anchorage, AK 50:48 43. Brad Benter, Anchorage, AK 50:58 44. Kurtis Brumbaugh, Anchorage, AK 50:58 45. Derek Nottingham, Eagle River, AK 51:28 46. Nathaniel Knapp, Los Alamos, NM 51:38 47. Marc Lickingteller, Anchorage, AK 51:42 48. Jerome Ross, Anchorage, AK 52:05 49. Brian Boyle, Chugiak, AK 52:20 50. Brian Haviland, Anchorage, AK 52:44 51. Alex Youngmun, Anchorage, AK 53:07 52. Dan Brokaw, Girdwood, AK 53:10 53. Michael Marting, Colorado Springs, CO 53:15 54. Gary Snyder, Anchorage, AK 53:19 55. Alex Carl, Eagle River, AK 53:37 56. William Michener, Eagle River, AK 54:00 57. Andrew Dougherty, Anchorage, AK 54:03 58. Thomas Nenahlo, Anchorage, AK 54:08 59. Jacob Bera, Chugiak, AK 54:17 60. Paul Ferucci, Anchorage, AK 54:42 61. Kenny Werth, Boise, ID 54:48 62. Lucas Hepler, Anchorage, AK 55:03 63. John Clark, Palmer, AK 55:20 64. Troy Larson, Anchorage, AK 55:46 65. Joey Klecka, Kenai, AK 55:52 66. Bryan Templeman, Anchorage, AK 56:34 67. Cameron Reitmeier, Anchorage, AK 56:38 68. Tom Smayda, Palmer, AK 57:08 69. Sterling Anderson, Anchorage, AK 57:45 70. David Stamp, Anchorage, AK 58:02 71. Dane CROWLEY, Palmer, AK 58:04 72. Rico Agudelo, Anchorage, AK 58:14 73. Jordan Chilson, Soldotna, AK 58:31 74. Michael Michener, Eagle River, AK 58:33 75. Daryll Vispo, Anchorage, AK 58:37 76. Shawn Naber, Anchorage, AK 58:39 77. Daniel Virgin, Palmer, AK 59:14 78. Matt Crow, Anchorage, AK 59:32 79. Luke Kiskaddon, Anchorage, AK 1:00:01 80. SAM YOUNG, Seward, AK 1:00:08 81. Jonny Hughes, Anchorage, AK 1:00:14 82. Chance Newell, Eagle River, AK 1:00:31 83. Justin Smole, Anchorage, AK 1:00:40 84. Christopher Walker, Anchorage, AK 1:00:54 85. Brant Grifka, Eagle River, AK 1:01:43 86. John Thain, Anchorage, AK 1:01:46 87. Craig Miller, Anchorage, AK 1:01:49 88. Richard Hansen, Anchorage, AK 1:02:03 89. Greg Scofield, Anchorage, AK 1:02:19 90. Keith Cook, Eagle River, AK 1:02:53 91. Kris Burnett, Anchorage, AK 1:02:55 92. Daniel Desaulniers, Anchorage, AK 1:02:58 93. Blake Elder, Anchorage, AK 1:03:28 94. Mike Beiergrohslein, Eagle River, AK 1:03:55 95. Michael Link, Anchorage, AK 1:03:59 96. Alec Kay, Anchorage, AK 1:04:13 97. Daniel Willman, Anchorage, AK 1:04:21 98. Slade Manning, Anchorage, AK 1:05:00 99. Ted Paprocki, Anchorage, AK 1:05:03 100. David Buhite, Anchorage, AK 1:05:18 101. Daniel Crumpacker, Anchorage, AK 1:05:37 102. Joe Pollock, Anchorage, AK 1:05:37 103. David Rebischke, Anchorage, AK 1:06:09 104. Martin Joha Lindeke, Chugiak, AK 1:06:43 105. Huckleberry Seed, Las Vegas, NV 1:06:48 106. Keith Sanfacon, Anchorage, AK 1:06:56 107. Dylan Garbe, Eagle River, AK 1:07:13 108. John Haywood, Olympia, WA 1:07:21 109. Rhyss Vivian, Anchorage, AK 1:07:27 110. Carter Newell, Eagle River, AK 1:07:38 111. Douglas Ketterer, Anchorage, AK 1:08:46 112. patrick mcanally, Anchorage, AK 1:09:03 113. Michael Zidek, Anchorage, AK 1:10:10 114. John Pahkala, Anchorage, AK 1:10:27 115. Brandon Milne, Anchorage, AK 1:10:36 116. Steve McKeever, Anchorage, AK 1:11:02 117. Tab Ballantine, Anchorage, AK 1:11:28 118. Roger Kemppel, Anchorage, AK 1:11:43 119. Duke Ruzicka, Anchorage, AK 1:11:51 120. Evan R Steinhauser, Eagle River, AK 1:12:07 121. Gunner Hodgson, Palmer, AK 1:12:21 122. Adam Cooley, Anchorage, AK 1:13:29 123. Clarence Pautzke, Anchorage, AK 1:13:38 124. Kibo Kang, Anchorage, AK 1:13:44 125. Brent Williams, Anchorage, AK 1:14:35 126. Nelson Carpluk, Anchorage, AK 1:15:05 127. Devan Andersen, Anchorage, AK 1:17:19 128. Brian Pautzke, Girdwood, AK 1:18:40 129. Timothy Garbe, Eagle River, AK 1:19:51 130. Bernard Sturgulewski, Anchorage, AK 1:29:19 131. Matthew Theisen, Anchorage, AK 1:38:57 132. ERNEST STOLEN, Anchorage, AK 1:43:00 133. George Galliher, Anchorage, AK 1:44:27 134. Jubal Bryant, Anchorage, AK 2:05:01

Women

1. Jessica Yeaton, Anchorage, AK 44:48 2. Christy Marvin, Palmer, AK 44:59 3. Denali Strabel, Anchorage, AK 47:42 4. Najeeby Quinn, Anchorage, AK 48:54 5. Sheryl Loan, Eagle River, AK 50:04 6. Allison Barnwell, Seward, AK 50:45 7. Kinsey Loan, Eagle River, AK 50:50 8. Julianne Dickerson, Anchorage, AK 51:13 9. Lauren Fritz, Anchorage, AK 51:35 10. Heather Edic, Anchorage, AK 52:15 11. Abby Jahn, Anchorage, AK 53:20 12. Megan Neale, Anchorage, AK 54:05 13. Sadie Fox, Soldotna, AK 54:30 14. Annie Connelly, Chugiak, AK 54:36 15. Lauren Spinelli, Anchorage, AK 54:43 16. Lisa Anglen, Anchorage, AK 55:39 17. Leslie Robbins, Anchorage, AK 56:46 18. Kristen Sieminski, Seward, AK 56:59 19. Sarah Cosgrave, Anchorage, AK 57:13 20. Casey Wright, Anchorage, AK 57:59 21. Wendy Sailors, Anchorage, AK 58:01 22. Shannon Donley, Anchorage, AK 58:25 23. Tamra Kornfield, Anchorage, AK 58:42 24. Milissa Knox, Eagle River, AK 59:48 25. Amber McDonough, Anchorage, AK 1:00:40 26. Leah Besh, Anchorage, AK 1:00:48 27. leah legate, Anchorage, AK 1:01:02 28. Janel Radford, Anchorage, AK 1:01:03 29. Alyse Loran, Anchorage, AK 1:01:12 30. Erin Hamilton, Anchorage, AK 1:01:19 31. Kimberly Fitzgerald, Fairbanks, AK 1:01:21 32. Meredyth Richards, Anchorage, AK 1:02:09 33. Andrea Kettler, Anchorage, AK 1:02:49 34. Shannon Brockman, Anchorage, AK 1:02:52 35. Ellyn Brown, Anchorage, AK 1:03:10 36. Jillian Fellman, Chugiak, AK 1:03:22 37. Jessica Pahkala, Anchorage, AK 1:03:34 38. Alejandra legate, Anchorage, AK 1:03:40 39. Emily Helland, Anchorage, AK 1:04:59 40. Gwendolynn Gabbert, Anchorage, AK 1:06:39 41. Michelle Dickson, Anchorage, AK 1:06:41 42. Alayna DuPont, Girdwood, AK 1:06:56 43. Karen Looney, Palmer, AK 1:06:58 44. Hannah Beutler, Seward, AK 1:08:25 45. Rachelle Kanady, Anchorage, AK 1:08:41 46. Whitney Andersen, Anchorage, AK 1:10:11 47. Emily Kloc, Anchorage, AK 1:12:38 48. Mariah Buttets, Seward, AK 1:13:48 49. Suzanne Knudsen, Indian, AK 1:14:50 50. Sondra Stonecipher, Soldotna, AK 1:17:25 51. Elizabeth Earl, Soldotna, AK 1:17:32 52. Amy Brumbaugh, Anchorage, AK 1:18:20 53. Linda Barnack, Anchorage, AK 1:19:54 54. Rose Garner, Anchorage, AK 1:22:31 55. Christine Youngblood, Anchorage, AK 1:23:08 56. ALI TREMAINE, Anchorage, AK 1:25:24 57. Rachel Thompson, Anchorage, AK 1:39:40 58. Natalie Bickers, Palmer, AK 1:43:20

Jack's Run

Boys

1. Aven Elsberg, Anchorage, AK 24:06 2. Beck Haywood, Anchorage, AK 24:19 3. Finnigan Donley, Anchorage, AK 25:49 4. Chace Hardy, Eagle River, AK 26:11 5. Ben Duhrsen, Anchorage, AK 26:15 6. Daniel Ferucci, Anchorage, AK 26:36 7. Henry Michener, Eagle River, AK 27:59 8. Josh Novakovich, Anchorage, AK 29:27 9. Logan Cuddy, Anchorage, AK 29:39 10. Bret Brumbaugh, Anchorage, AK 29:42 11. Braun Precosky, Anchorage, AK 30:13 12. Mason Newell, Eagle River, AK 32:34 13. Fian Walsh, Chugiak, AK 32:45 14. Elias Barnard, Anchorage, AK 33:05 15. Rhett Jones, Eagle River, AK 34:25 16. Elias Williams, Anchorage, AK 36:37 17. Logan Williams, Anchorage, AK 37:15 18. Legend Kopsack, Palmer, AK 38:48 19. Jason Cooper, Anchorage, AK 39:49 20. Nycoh Johnston, Eagle River, AK 46:18 21. Liam Cuddy, Anchorage, AK 47:40 22. Emery Lindeke, Chugiak, AK 1:06:56 23. Leif Konrath-Bera, Chugiak, AK 1:07:21

Girls

1. Llily Slatonbarker, Eagle River, AK 26:56 2. Liz Novakovich, Anchorage, AK 29:45 3. Brianna Gill Anderson, Anchorage, AK 30:25 4. Addison Stevenson, Anchorage, AK 32:30 5. Jillian Gavalya, Chugiak, AK 32:35 6. Berit Meyers, Anchorage, AK 33:51 7. Amanda Michener, Eagle River, AK 35:32 8. Meredith Duhrsen, Anchorage, AK 36:58 9. Sammy legate, Anchorage, AK 37:09 10. Quinzee Elsberg, Anchorage, AK 37:10 11. Sophie Novakovich, Anchorage, AK 45:28 12. Ava Cook, Eagle River, AK 46:45 13. Zoee Beiergrohslein, Eagle River, AK 46:49 14. Harper Willman, Anchorage, AK 46:58 15. Sarah Warnke, Eagle River, AK 52:15 16. Lily Konrath-Bera, Chugiak, AK 1:07:30

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