Skip to main Content
Sports

Denali Strabel crushes women’s record in muddy Turnagain Arm Trail Run

  • Author: Beth Bragg
    | Sports
  • Updated: May 3
  • Published May 3

Jonny Hughes runs to a 28th-place finish Thursday night in the 8-mile Turnagain Arm Trail Run. (Photo by Anna Berecz / UAA)

Denali Strabel on Thursday became the first woman to break the one-hour barrier on the south-bound route of the Turnagain Arm Trail Run.

Strabel, 29, slashed three minutes off the previous women’s record in the 8-mile race from the Potter trailhead to the Rainbow trailhead in Chugach State Park.

She finished in 59 minutes, 21 seconds to rack up her second straight Turnagain Arm victory and her third straight major victory this year. Strabel won the Heart Run 5K last month and the 6-mile Crazy Lazy Mountain Race in March.

Runners contended with rain and mud, but the less-than-ideal conditions nonetheless yielded some impressive results.

Seventeen-year-old Michael Connelly established a new record in the men’s 4-mile race, winning in 30:45 to take more than a minute off Brad Precosky’s 10-year-old record.

He and Strabel were among eight runners who posted times that cracked the all-time top-10 lists for the 8-mile and 4-mile south-bound races.

In the women’s 8-mile run, two runners earned spots on the all-time top-10 list along with Strabel — second-place Heather Edic (1:03:01) and third-place Jessica Vetsch (1:03:24) ran the third- and sixth-fastest times on the Potter-to-Rainbow route.

In the men’s 8-mile run, winner Lars Arneson’s time of 51:44 is the fourth fastest in history and runner-up Chad Trammell’s 52:15 ranks sixth. Both men are looking good early in the running season — Arneson, 29, won the Crazy Lazy Mountain Run in March, and Trammell, 34, won the recent Heart Run 5K.

In the women’s 4-mile run from McHugh Creek to Rainbow, winner Tara Masters won in 40:30, the fifth best time in race history, and runner-up Cecelia Nocas ran a 44:32, the 10th-best time ever.

Nearly 200 runners — 134 in the 8-miler and 38 in the 4-miler — competed in the annual fundraiser for the UAA ski team.

The race switches directions each year, and times registered on the north-bound Rainbow to Potter route are often a bit faster than those on the south-bound route used Thursday. In 2016, running the north-bound route, Christy Marvin became the first woman to break the one-hour mark with a time of 59:16. Until Thursday, no other woman had dipped below 60 minutes regardless of route.

Denali Strabel, Kelemen Legate and Eric Stabel show off their muddy legs after Thursday night's Turnagain Arm Trail Run. (Photo by Glynn Strabel)

Strabel, one of Alaska’s premier trail and mountain runners, credited her record run to a last-minute change of shoes.

“I brought two shoe options and ended up switching (at the last minute),” she said. “They didn’t have spikes but they’re lugs and have a thicker tread. The people staying upright definitely had shoes made for muddy or snowy conditions, and fortunately I was one of those.”

Strabel said she also benefited from seeing what was happening ahead of her on the trail. She said she didn’t think the trail would be too muddy until the men ahead of her went through a mud pit.

“I saw the mud flinging up like waffles, from the imprint of their shoes, and instantly saw the brown legs,” she said. “So I could kind of prepare myself.”

Strabel said finishing in less than an hour didn’t become her goal until the final mile when she passed a group of spectators — most of them mountain runners, including Barney Griffith and Claire Connelly, Michael’s mom.

“I didn’t know I was running fast until I saw their faces,” she said. “I looked at Barney and Claire and I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m going to do this.’ They said I was smiling, and I told them I was smiling because they got me excited.”

A mile later, Strabel broke the one-hour mark with more than half a minute to spare. She finished 11th overall and was the last finisher to finish in less than an hour.

Strabel shattered the Potter-to-Rainbow women’s record of 1:02:51 set in 2017 by Najeeby Quinn. Quinn, an eight-time champion, finished fifth Thursday in 1:05:55.

Connelly lowered the McHugh-to-Rainbow men’s 4-mile record by 66 seconds, erasing Precosky’s mark of 31:52 set in 2009. On Thursday, Precosky ran with his 11-year-son Braun and finished ninth in 45:20 — five seconds behind Braun.

No one came close to threatening the Potter-to-Rainbow men’s 8-mile record of 49:42, set in 2015 by Matt Shryock, or the McHugh-to-Potter women’s 4-mile record of 38:28, set in 2009 by Leslie Varys.

Women’s 4-mile

1) Tara Masters 0:40:30;

2) Cecelia Nocas 0:44:32;

3) Erin Hamilton 0:45:07;

4) Jen Kach 0:47:18;

5) Leah Legate 0:47:39;

6) Nicole Wollgast 0:48:44;

7) Elisabeth Angeles 0:50:09;

8) Callie Hagedorn 0:50:30;

9) Ashley French 0:52:01;

10) Madalyn Gaither 0:56:26;

11) Katrina Garner 0:57:55;

12) Lauran McNaughton 0:58:13;

13) Liane Nagata 0:59:22;

14) Marliese von Huene 1:02:41;

15) Kelly Yanoshek 1:02:41;

16) Janice Habermann 1:04:26;

17) Caitlin Robinson 1:06:16;

18) Mona Bremont 1:07:21;

19) Vickie Kern 1:12:43;

20) Jacqueline Clark 1:20:11;

21) Cassidy Clark 1:20:11.

Men’s 4 mile

1) Michael Connelly 0:30:45;

2) Tony Slatonbarker 0:37:21;

3) Zachary Cheyette 0:39:27;

4) Tony Ryan 0:42:02;

5) Aven Elsberg 0:42:06;

6) Dylan Burgess 0:44:01;

7) Conner von Huene 0:44:11;

8) Braun Precosky 0:45:15;

9) Brad Precosky 0:45:20;

10) Nathan Rehberg 0:45:37;

11) Daniel Cheyette 0:46:47;

12) Noah Rehberg 0:49:09;

13) Evan Steinhauser 0:52:42;

14) Simon Harrison 0:54:50;

15) Rhett Jones 0:56:08;

16) Evan Jones 0:56:09;

17) Marcus Knight 1:00:31.

Women’s 8 mile

1) Denali Strabel 0:59:21;

2) Heather Edic 1:03:01;

3) Jessica Vetsch 1:03:24;

4) Julianne Dickerson 1:04:45;

5) Najeeby Quinn 1:05:55;

6) Lia Slemons 1:06:48;

7) Mariah Graham 1:08:00;

8) Lauren Fritz 1:09:15;

9) Nowelle Spencer 1:10:01;

10) Annie Connelly 1:10:36;

11) Alyse Loran 1:11:00;

12) Melissa Templin 1:11:36;

13) Carly Venzke 1:13:34;

14) Hannah Lies 1:13:37;

15) Julie Johnson 1:15:01;

16) Lauren Spinelli 1:18:13;

17) Kristyn Turney 1:18:20;

18) Karol Fink 1:19:02;

19) Sara Bryan 1:19:47;

20) Kimberly Riggs 1:19:50;

21) Katie Conway 1:20:11;

22) Christie Haupert 1:20:58;

23) Clare Shea 1:23:25;

24) Ivy Eski 1:24:25;

25) Rachel Gernat 1:24:40;

26) Haley Yerxa 1:24:50;

27) Kathleen Sorensen 1:24:58;

28) Elizabeth Whisenhant 1:25:56;

29) Elizabeth Hooper 1:27:18;

30) Kristi Adams 1:27:29;

31) Georgia Kubic 1:28:36;

32) Deanna Nielson 1:32:13;

33) Madeline Woodard 1:32:58;

34) Melissa Bussell 1:33:32;

35) Sarah Hurkett 1:34:07;

36) Joleen Corlis 1:35:55;

37) Megan Kemp 1:36:25;

38) Joey Eski 1:36:38;

39) Amy Mitchell 1:38:05;

40) Brooke Shortridge 1:38:34;

41) Sarah Fischer 1:38:35;

42) Hanna Chastain 1:38:35;

43) Dana Deane 1:38:37;

44) Grace Schmidt 1:39:26;

45) Linda Barnack 1:39:41;

46) Molly Hickox 1:40:27;

47) Amy Bushatz 1:41:20;

48) Lisa Fiegel 1:43:59;

49) Jennifer Gates 1:45:55;

50) Michelle Cox 1:50:41;

51) Jennifer Smith 1:51:12;

52) Amber Johnson 1:53:01;

53) Natasha Swan 1:53:02;

54) Carrissa Thomas 1:53:02;

55) Rahni Johnson 1:53:05;

56) Rose Garner 1:58:13;

57) Natalie Bickers 1:59:04.

Men’s 8 mile

1) Lars Arneson 0:51:44;

2) Chad Trammell 0:52:15;

3) Cody Priest 0:54:46;

4) Eric Strabel 0:55:18;

5) Erik Johnson 0:56:47;

6) Tracen Knopp 0:57:29;

7) Ryan Beckett 0:57:33;

8) Mark Iverson 0:57:36;

9) Patrick Lewis 0:57:56;

10) Kelemen Legate 0:59:18;

11) Ben Ward 1:00:25;

12) Luke Duffy 1:01:42;

13) Andrew Kubic 1:02:00;

14) Chris Seaman 1:02:55;

15) Craig Taylor 1:03:01;

16) Jim McDonough 1:03:51;

17) Sean Ulman 1:03:59;

18) Luke Rosier 1:04:00;

19) Mike Wahlig 1:04:31;

20) David Berg 1:05:41;

21) Aaron Martin 1:06:05;

22) Daniel Myers 1:06:43;

23) Jonny Hughes 1:06:47;

24) Matias Saari 1:06:53;

25) Cameron Reitmeier 1:06:58;

26) Thomas Nenahlo 1:07:51;

27) Scott Pessetto 1:08:12;

28) Rob Witter 1:08:16;

29) Wes Hoskins 1:09:07;

30) Derek Nottingham 1:09:57;

31) Ian Marks 1:10:00;

32) John Hellen 1:10:33;

33) Gary Snyder 1:10:58;

34) Garrett McKee 1:12:21;

35) Christopher Walker 1:12:24;

36) Samuel Snyder 1:12:57;

37) Scott Ezell 1:13:19;

38) Josh Hubbard 1:13:21;

39) Garrett Swygman 1:13:27;

40) Westley Dahlgren 1:13:28;

41) Jordan Huckabay 1:13:42;

42) Ari Stiassny 1:14:08;

43) Brian Broderick 1:14:26;

44) Dan Brokaw 1:14:41;

45) Joseph Engel 1:16:18;

46) Josh Hege 1:17:54;

47) Mark Fineman 1:18:02;

48) Ethan Eski 1:18:22;

49) Steve Gilles 1:19:29;

50) John Clark 1:20:18;

51) Daniel Willman 1:20:59;

52) John Wirum 1:21:01;

53) Ted Paprocki 1:21:20;

54) Rhyss Vivian 1:22:25;

55) Nathan Kasukonis 1:22:31;

56) Robert Hall 1:23:21;

57) Matthew Fellman 1:24:52;

58) Greg Whisenhant 1:25:56;

59) Kyle Kelley 1:26:48;

60) Sean Murphy 1:26:48;

61) Matt Lefleur 1:26:50;

62) Dane Crowley 1:29:11;

63) Lucas Soden 1:29:24;

64) Dylan Garbe 1:30:11;

65) Jared Kern 1:33:09;

66) Michael Fisher 1:34:07;

67) Brandon Wood 1:34:07;

68) Bill Ivory 1:34:39;

69) Todd Sherwood 1:34:45;

70) Unknown 1:36:44;

71) Unknown 1:36:54;

72) Adam Gulkis 1:42:05;

73) John Pahkala 1:46:43;

74) Joshua Pahkala 1:46:43;

75) Patrick McAnally 1:46:47;

76) Tab Ballantine 1:49:14;

77) Ed Strabel 2:11:33.


Local news matters.

Support independent, local journalism in Alaska.

Comments