Sports

Crow Pass Crossing race postponed due to unsafe conditions for river crossing

James Fess, crow pass, crow pass crossing

The Crow Pass Crossing, a nearly 23-mile trail race from Girdwood to the Eagle River Nature Center, has been postponed, according to race organizers. It was scheduled to be run Saturday starting at 9 a.m.

Race co-director Matias Saari said the one major river crossing on the trail — at the Eagle River — isn’t safe after a week with plenty of rainfall. The race will likely be rescheduled for later in the summer, Saari said.

The race, in its 37th year, draws dozens of Alaska’s best endurance athletes as well as runners from the Lower 48.

Saari said he and co-director Harlow Robinson had been in close communication with the Alaska Mountain Rescue Group, which assists in safety for the race.

“We’d been hopeful with not a ton of rain the last couple days that water levels would be going down,” Saari said. “We ended up learning the opposite. It was higher and the river was wider than normal.”

He said the river was waist deep on a 6-foot-tall competitor, which meant a much more difficult crossing for shorter runners.

Safety personnel are armed with throw ropes at the crossing in case of emergency. But Saari said with the extra river width, they weren’t confident they could cover the entire river, potentially leaving racers without a safety net.

“That was a risk we weren’t comfortable taking on,” he said.

Another contributing factor was the large number of first-time racers.

“More than half the field had never run Crow Pass,” Saari said. “We factor in experience level as well.”

Saari said he and Robinson will continue to assess the possibility of rescheduling, with a general timeline within the next month.

In 2017, the race was canceled — for the first time since its inception in 1984 — after an Anchorage teenager was killed by a black bear during a trail race earlier that summer. In 2020, the race was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chris Bieri

Chris Bieri is the sports and entertainment editor at the Anchorage Daily News.

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