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Priest edges Knopp Kesugi Ridge mountain run

Last to enter, first to the finish line.

After learning that a few spots had opened up for the 7th Kesugi Ridge Traverse in Denali State Park, Cody Priest and Tracen Knopp spontaneously signed up just two days in advance. Then in hot conditions, they waged a back-and-forth duel on Saturday and completed the grueling event from Little Coal Creek trailhead to Byers Lake just 22 seconds apart.

Knopp, a 20-year-old whom Priest once coached, tripped and fell on a technical section in the final mile. This allowed Priest to gain a small advantage and he held on in 4 hours, 48 minutes and 19 seconds. Knopp struggled with leg cramps as the temperature rose above 70 degrees before clocking 4:48:41.

The pair reached the midway Ermine Checkpoint together in 2:13.

Esther Kennedy of Sitka won the women’s race and placed eighth overall in 6:04:13 while Jan Tomsen of Denali Park took second in 6:20:48.

The existing records set by Scott Patterson (4:38 in 2015) and Christy Marvin (5:27 in 2018) were not threatened.

In the third running of the 15-mile half traverse from Little Coal Creek to just beyond the Ermine Hill trail junction, Ben Muse of Anchorage prevailed in 2:24:53, shaving more than two minutes off Jeff Young’s record from 2018.

UAA skier Jenna Difolco earned the women’s win in 2:40:33 and ranked fourth overall, but missed breaking Colleen Bolling’s record by 28 seconds.

A record 95 participants started the races and 83 finished within the time cutoffs.

Full Traverse (30 miles)

Men

1) Cody Priest, 4:48:19; 2) Tracen Knopp, 4:48:41; 3) Marshall Genn, 5:43:56; 4) John Wros, 5:50:04; 5) Michael Abbott, 5:56:17; 6) Zach Thomas, 6:00:03; 7) Christopher Maus, 6:02:55; 8) Willie Stoll, 6:12:36; 9) Ross Henry, 6:25:52; 10) Zach Behney, 6:32:41; 11) Nathan Smith, 6:51:59; 12) Chris Garber-Slaght, 6:54:06; 13) Nathanael Ray, 6:57:25; 14) Lee House, 7:01:28; 15) Greg Stocker, 7:03:49; 16) Marek Kolendo, 7:04:37; 17) Kevin Knotek, 7:15:59; 18) James Lewis, 7:18:05; 19) Steven Anderson, 7:19:43; 20) Mike Monterusso, 7:30:33; 21) Kent Johnson, 7:37:36; 22) Rick Hansen, 7:39:56; 23) Blake Elder, 7:43:30; 24) Jacob Case, 7:46:26; 25) David Johnston, 7:51:23; 26) Timothy Mitchell, 7:58:32; 27) Todd Henry, 8:20:08; 28) Andy Kubic, 8:35:17; 29) Christopher Larrick, 8:55:46.

Women

1) Esther Kennedy, 6:04:13; 2) Jan Tomsen, 6:20:48; 3) Klaire Rhodes, 6:28:57; 4) Melissa Lewis, 6:38:55; 5) Greer Gehler, 6:52:42; 6) Jane Hollenberg, 7:01:00; 7) Sarah Thomas, 7:23:49; 8) Chelsea Ward-Waller, 7:37:02; 9) Emily Mann, 7:45:35; 10) Jennifer Foster, 7:56:35; 11) Shawn McTaggart, 8:06:32; 12) Teri Buck, 8:06:33; 13) Tammy Weaver, 8:12:32; 14) Kat Davis, 8:21:14; 15) Kayla Munday, 8:26:31; 16) Stacy Miles, 8:31:43; 17) Georgia Kubic, 8:35:18.

Half Traverse (15 miles)

Men

1) Ben Muse, 2:24:53; 2) Jim McDonough, 2:33:55; 3) Eric Mortenson-Nemore, 2:37:25; 4) Mike Schroeder, 2:41:16; 5) Jordan Huckabay, 2:45:00; 6) Hale Loofbourrow, 3:01:05; 7) Thomas Nenahlo, 3:02:18; 8) Barry Benko, 3:03:57; 9) Jacob Parker, 3:09:20; 10) Andrew Putnam, 3:13:48; 11) Kyle Kelley, 3:15:52; 12) Ed Leonetti, 3:35:33; 13) Derek Meier, 3:37:29; 14) Lucas Parker, 3:38:01; 15) Joseph Bentel, 3:50:58; 16) Scott Jones, 4:03:16; 17) Cody Landenburger, 4:04:13.

Women

1) Jenna Difolco, 2:40:33; 2) Milissa Lewis, 2:46:59; 3) Mariah Graham, 2:48:22; 4) Sadie Fox, 3:03:51; 5) Meredyth Richards, 3:06:29; 6) Kristin Wetzel, 3:07:19; 7) Nicole Hjelm, 3:10:33; 8) Lauren Patton, 3:20:50; 9) Kristi Adams, 3:22:30; 10) Sara Bryan, 3:22:44; 11) Katie Croyle, 3:27:59; 12) Justina Jaminet, 3:31:56; 13) Sarah Webster, 3:37:30; 14) Shelby Lee Harris, 3:40:52; 15) Elizabeth Knapp, 3:43:15; 16) Jessica Robertson, 3:43:32; 17) Clarissa Dougherty, 3:45:45; 18) Lena Nazarek, 3:47:44; 19) Lisa Beattie, 3:59:36; 20) Pam Laker, 4:01:15.

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