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David Norris makes a record-smashing ascent of Bird Ridge

  • Author: Beth Bragg
  • Updated: June 20
  • Published June 20

David Norris shattered his own record and a visitor from Maine ran the fourth-fastest time by a woman Sunday at the quad-busting Robert Spurr Memorial Hill Climb at Bird Ridge.

Sophia Laukli of Yarmouth, Maine, turned heads in her mountain running debut, and Norris showed that he’s fit and fast heading into next month’s Mount Marathon race in Seward, where he reigns as the men’s record-holder in Alaska’s most famous footrace.

Three years after becoming the first person to crack the 37-minute mark at Bird Ridge, Norris became the first to crack the 36-minute mark.

He made the relentless climb in 35 minutes, 40 seconds, to slice more than a minute off his 2018 record of 36:58.

“This is a big PR for me,” Norris said. “It should mean that I’m in good shape for Mount Marathon.”

Bird Ridge challenges racers with 3,400 feet of vertical gain over three miles. Since the inaugural run in 1989, it’s been a race that often favors the lung and leg power of cross-country skiers, and Sunday continued that tradition.

Norris, 30, has been one of America’s top men for the last couple of years and is coming off a season during which he turned in two top-20 finishes at the World Championships.

Laukli, 21, made an impact in her World Championship debut with three top-30 finishes.

Both flew into Anchorage on Saturday, in time to join a field of 220 Sunday morning at Bird Ridge.

Norris was coming home after several weeks at high altitude in Durango, Colorado, where his girlfriend -- Jessica Yeaton, a former Mount Marathon champ -- is doing clinical work. He said he logged a lot of miles there on roller-skis, “but I haven’t done anything that replicates a Bird Ridge-like sustained steepness.”

Laukli is here to train for a few weeks with the Alaska Pacific University ski team, whose members include Norris and both of Sunday’s second-place finishers, Scott Patterson (37:31) and Rosie Franksowski (46:00).

“I definitely have never done a race like this but I’d talked to people who have done it so I kinda knew what to expect,” said Laukli, an NCAA skier for Vermont’s Middlebury College. “But it was definitely a bit harder and more intense than I was ready for.

“I’ve never done a long uphill run like that, but it was fun.”

Laukli finished in 43:50 to beat Frankowski by more than two minutes. Her time ranks fourth all-time among women; the top three times all belong to Nancy Pease, whose 1993 record of 42:27 remains elusive.

Laukli, who ran with a handful of men who all finished in the top 15, said her legs tired as she neared the top of the ridge where the race ends. From there runners hike back down to the parking lot below, a descent that told Laukli she probably won’t forget her first mountain race anytime soon.

“Running down today I was like, wow, this is gonna hurt for a few days,” she said.

Patterson was Sunday’s early leader but Norris took command around the halfway point to claim his third victory in the last five races.

“I’ve found in the past there’s a lot of gear changes in these races, where you go from hiking to steep uphill running to even short, little downhills, and those transitions are really challenging,” Norris said. “When I passed Scott … I thought, maybe if I focus here I can push hard for the next minute, because there’s a lot of transitions in that spot, so I thought I could maybe get a little bit of a gap.”

He got a gap and then some to win by nearly two minutes.

Norris turned in one of two record-setting efforts Sunday. Sheryl Loan ran 56:12 to steal the women’s 60-69 age-group record from Ellyn Brown, who ran 59:15 in 2014. Loan placed 17th among women.

In Jack’s Run -- the junior race that goes halfway up Bird Ridge -- 14-year-old Robbie Annett topped the boys in 24:15 and 10-year-old Savanna Barnard paced the girls in 31:45.

Men

1. David Norris, 35:40; 2. Scott Patterson, 37:31; 3. Thomas O’Harra, 39:58; 4. Lars Arneson, 40:30; 5. Michael Connelly, 41:26; 6. Kai Meyers, 41:53; 7. Erik Johnson, 42:19; 8. Ari Endestad, 42:27; 9. Galen Hecht, 43:20; 10. Christopher Kirk, 43:33; 11. Taylor Turney, 43:36; 12. Jason Lamoreaux, 43:52; 13. Paul Fracolli, 44:26; 14. Peter Hinds, 44:29; 15. Jerome Ross, 44:36; 16. Forrest Mahlen, 46:13; 17. Ethan Eski, 46:29; 18. Barney Griffith, 46:44; 19. Duncan Wright, 46:49; 20. David Spencer, 46:57; 21. Ben Ward, 46:57; 22. Tor Christopherson, 47:04; 23. Pyper Dixon, 47:37; 24. Duane Zitta, 47:37; 25. Eli Hermanson, 47:46; 26. Brady Burrough, 47:52; 27. Tom Ritchie, 47:55; 28. Conor Deal, 48:00; 29. Patrick Conway, 48:23; 30. Luke Rosier, 48:27; 31. Kenny Regan, 48:45; 32. Zach Hartmann, 49:02; 33. Jared Kirkham, 49:06; 34. Craig Taylor, 49:23; 35. Kurtis Brumbaugh, 49:39; 36. Andrew Stavich, 50:06; 37. Luke Cvancara, 50:32; 38. Dante Petri, 50:59; 39. Derek Nottingham, 50:59; 40. Brian Haviland, 51:04; 41. Mark Brady, 51:09; 42. Andrew Duenow, 51:10; 43. Brian Boyle, 51:18; 44. Justin Libby, 51:22; 45. Ryan Beckett, 51:30; 46. Trevor Kreznar, 51:36; 47. Troy Fritzel, 52:09; 48. Silas Talbot, 52:16; 49. Tom Bronga, 52:51; 50. Josh Chelf, 52:55; 51. Hatcher Menkens, 52:59; 52. noble gurney, 53:02; 53. Robert Walgren, 53:02; 54. Everett Cason, 53:38; 55. James Pyke, 53:45; 56. Joseph Engel, 53:50; 57. Brian Harder, 53:57; 58. Garrett Streit, 53:59; 59. Greg Stocker, 54:28; 60. John Weddleton, 54:34; 61. Brian Broderick, 54:36; 62. Troy Larson, 54:40; 63. Clint McCool, 54:50; 64. Patrick Lewis, 54:56; 65. Daryll Vispo, 55:01; 66. Gary Snyder, 55:25; 67. Brant Grifka, 55:47; 68. Scott Wamsganz, 56:04; 69. Thomas Nenahlo, 56:15; 70. Frank Witmer, 56:25; 71. Jim McDonough, 56:37; 72. Paul Ferucci, 57:07; 73. Dan Myers, , 57:24; 74. Tucker Lien, 57:38; 75. MICHAEL OTTENWELLER, 57:51; 76. Ari Gardner, 58:16; 77. Scott Henry, 58:19; 78. Mark Wing, 58:35; 79. John Clark, 59:48; 80. Mark Smith, 1:00:00; 81. Shayne Wescott, 1:00:18; 82. Dylan Lauwers, 1:01:41; 83. Ren Rangel, 1:01:54; 84. Lance Kopsack, 1:02:12; 85. BRYAN TEMPLEMAN, 1:02:21; 86. Brian Fish, 1:02:49; 87. Keith Weinhold, 1:03:04; 88. Steve Gilles, 1:04:15; 89. Marek Kolendo, 1:04:29; 90. Aaron Christie, 1:04:33; 91. Laddie Shaw, 1:04:41; 92. Geremy Skeen, 1:04:42; 93. todd murdoch, 1:04:46; 94. Dylan Garbe, 1:04:53; 95. Keith Sanfacon, 1:05:37; 96. Dane Crowley, 1:06:54; 97. Jordan Delahunt, 1:07:21; 98. David Retherford, 1:07:35; 99. Alec Kay, 1:07:39; 100. David Rebischke, 1:07:48; 101. Tim Johnson, 1:08:04; 102. Scott Curry, 1:08:04; 103. STEVE MCKEEVER, 1:08:13; 104. John Pahkala, 1:08:17; 105. Tommy Cronin, 1:08:55; 106. Matthew Mau, 1:09:30; 107. Ed Bennett, 1:11:03; 108. Walter Moore, 1:11:21; 109. Christopher Walker, 1:11:27; 110. Braun Kopsack, 1:11:35; 111. Pierce Stowman, 1:12:49; 112. Evan R Steinhauser, 1:12:59; 113. Neil Lamothe, 1:13:41; 114. Dean Denter, 1:14:18; 115. Gunner Hodgson, 1:16:33; 116. David Wang, 1:18:50; 117. Ben Burrough, 1:19:35; 118. Fred Moore, 1:20:40; 119. TIMOTHY GARBE, 1:22:07; 120. Roger Kemppel, 1:22:25; 121. Dayton Denter, 1:26:18; 122. Blaine Ladd, 1:27:30; 123. Shawn Williams, 1:29:51; 124. Tab Ballantine, 1:30:44; 125. James Sorrels, 1:32:04; 126. Norm Johnson, 1:32:08; 127. Andy Garbe, 1:32:53; 128. Rusty Storjohann, 1:38:17; 129. John White, 1:39:32.

Women

1. Sophia Laukli, 43:50; 2. Rosie Frankowski, 46:00; 3. Meg Inokuma, 47:55; 4. Hannah Lafleur, 48:16; 5. Klaire Rhodes, 49:00; 6. Shauna Severson, 50:06; 7. Megan Chelf, 50:15; 8. Jennie Bender, 50:52; 9. Lisa Anglen, 51:13; 10. Nowelle Spencer, 52:38; 11. April McAnly, 52:57; 12. Kristina Storlie, 53:59; 13. Lucy Young, 54:02; 14. Yvonne Jeschke, 54:16; 15. Rose Conway, 55:02; 16. Rachel Dow, 55:50; 17. Sheryl Loan, 56:12; 18. Alyse Loran, 56:19; 19. Hannah Lies, 56:49; 20. Angela DiBerardino, 56:57; 21. Clare Cook, 56:58; 22. Sabrina Farmer, 57:10; 23. Lauren Spinelli, 57:48; 24. Kimberly Riggs, 58:01; 25. Megan Neale, 58:02; 26. Lily Pannkuk, 58:05; 27. Kristen Sieminski, 58:08; 28. Cara Wallschlaeger, 58:13; 29. Sarah Thomas, 58:14; 30. Justine Reese, 58:42; 31. Mamie Clare, 59:45; 32. Kari Fritzel, 1:00:08; 33. Amy De Schweinitz, 1:00:18; 34. Sarah Cosgrave, 1:00:34; 35. Tamra Kornfield, 1:00:41; 36. Haley White, 1:00:54; 37. Karol Fink, 1:00:57; 38. Jocelyn Kopsack, 1:01:25; 39. Elizabeth Whitaker, 1:01:57; 40. Berit Meyers, 1:02:25; 41. Tekla Seavey, 1:02:42; 42. Katie Conway, 1:03:01; 43. Viviana Mina, 1:03:04; 44. Amber McDonough, 1:03:07; 45. Hannah Ingrim, 1:03:29; 46. Jillian Gavalya, 1:03:29; 47. Shelby Sieminski, 1:03:52; 48. Leah Legate, 1:03:54; 49. Elizabeth Matthews, 1:04:11; 50. Megan Rosier, 1:04:30; 51. Rebecca Feldmann, 1:05:07; 52. Teresa Comer, 1:05:45; 53. Megan Olson, Anchorage, 1:06:28; 54. Karen Looney, 1:07:21; 55. Emily Dougherty, 1:07:27; 56. Ellyn Brown, 1:08:08; 57. Melissa Bussell, 1:08:12; 58. Heather Moon, 1:08:50; 59. Clare Shea, 1:09:13; 60. Sondra Stonecipher, 1:09:20; 61. Jennifer Anderson, 1:09:21; 62. Lily Slatonbarker, 1:09:31; 63. Kelley Wiley Lane, 1:10:22; 64. Jenna Wright, 1:12:16; 65. Jacey Spencer, 1:12:20; 66. Sarah Nicholas, 1:12:24; 67. Marilyn Sandford, 1:14:25; 68. Emily Sawyer, 1:14:30; 69. Brigitte Nickles, 1:17:42; 70. Joey Eski, 1:18:10; 71. Aimee Chauvot, 1:19:07; 72. Erin Hamilton, 1:20:56; 73. MILCA WIDMER, 1:21:30; 74. Rachel Kidwell, 1:23:07; 75. Ellen Kruchoski, 1:25:22; 76. Rose Garner, 1:28:01; 77. Katrina Garner, 1:28:01; 78. Phyllis Shoemaker, 1:31:59; 79. Rosalee Hafen, 1:37:02; 80. Amelia Carney, 1:39:28.

Jack’s Run (halfway up)

Boys -- 1. Robbie Annett, 24:15; 2. Gus Olson, A 25:11; 3. Kaeden Anderson, 27:30; 4. Elias Barnard, 28:56; 5. Legend Kopsack, 30:35; 6. Russell Adams, 33:43; 7. Breyden Nottingham, 33:47.

Girls -- 1. Savannah Barnard, 31:45; 2. Lucy Olson, 33:06; 3. Sammy Legate, 34:52; 4. Margaret Adams, 46:27.

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